BY ABEL OKWU in Asaba•
Delta State Government has expressed readiness to increase the tempo of infrastructural development particularly the construction of roads to ensure the speedy completion of the current road and rehabilitation projects.
Speaking during on-the-spot assessment of some of the state and federal road projects embarked upon by the state government on Wednesday, the State Commissioner for Works, Mr. James Aguoye, said that Governor Ifeanyi Okowa was passionate at ensuring that the road projects were completed in time to boost social-economic activities across the state.
Some of the roads inspected by Aguoye, in company of the information commissioner, Mr. Patrick Ukah, include the 1.175 kilometre Cable Point Road ‘dualisation’, the 1.2 kilometre Owa-Alidinma Road project, Ute-Okpu/Owa Alero Road project, the 24 kilometre Nsukwa/Ejeme Aniogor road project, the 5.4 kilometre Owa Alero road ‘dualisation’ and the 9.42 kilometre Old Lagos/Asaba road dualisation project in Agbor, Ika South Local Government Area of the state.
The works commissioner however assured that the 9.42 kilometre Old Lagos/Asaba Road, Agbor, which is currently being expanded from its initial 7.3 meters to a dual-carriage way, would be delivered by January 2018.
“The old Lagos/Asaba Road, Agbor, is a Federal road which we (The Delta State Government) took over and is now being expanded from the initial 7.3 Meters to a dual Carriageway.
“As you can see, the bridge is almost completed. Again, there was a directive from the Federal Ministry of Transport that there would be a text run of the Federal Government rail under the bridge by the end of this month.
“That is why we are working day and night to ensure that we meet the target. Once that is done, we are sure that the contractor handing the road would be ready to hand it over to the state government before the end of January 2018.”
On other road projects, the Commissioner said that the various contractors have been told to take advantage of the dry season and speed up their work in order to ensure that they meet up with the stipulated deadline.
The Commissioner for Information, Mr. Patrick Ukah, said that the Okowa administration is taking the road construction and rehabilitation projects seriously as part of its deliberate determination to ensure that all the rural areas where completely linked to the urban centres.
The efforts, according to Mr. Ukah, is aimed at bringing the dividends of democracy to the door steps of Deltans, adding, “the administration of Senator Okowa is laying much emphasis on making life more comfortable for our people”.
The state commissioner for economic Planning, Dr Kingsley Emu, expressed delight and thrown more light why Delta State placed second (behind Lagos State) in the National Competitiveness Council of Nigeria (NCCN) rating of the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory Abuja.
The National Competitiveness Council of Nigeria (NCCN), in partnership with Ford Foundation and Tony Elumelu Foundation, recently released the Sub-National Index Overall State Ranking for 2017, which saw Delta State closely occupying the second slot on the table behind Lagos State.
Addressing a press conference in Asaba on Tuesday, the state Commissioner for Economic Planning, Dr Emu, stressed that, “four critical parameters were used by the independent body to arrive at its final decision”.
He revealed that Delta State placed tops on Human Capital Overall Ranking (Education, Health, Migration and Gender Equality), 5th on Infrastructure Overall Ranking (Roads, Electricity, Airport, Telecom, Waste and Water), 23rd on Economy Overall Ranking (Access to Finance, State Finances, Business Sophistication and Tax), and 7th on Institution Overall Ranking (Security, Transparency, Justice, Corruption and Permits).
The Economic Planning Commissioner, who was accompanied by his Information counterpart, Mr. Patrick Ukah, stated that a total contract sum of N170,412,772,742.90 has so far been awarded by the state government on the construction of 149 roads of 764.39 kilometres and 225.59 kilometres of drains.
Dr. Emu stated that N37,637,333,366.09 is for 49 roads of 252.12 kilometres and 55.31 kilometres of drains in Delta Central, N51,458,906,454.84 for 65 roads of 325.43 kilometres and 126.02 kilometres of drains in Delta North, and N81,316,532,921.97 for 35 roads totalling 186.84 kilometres and 44.26 kilometres of drains in Delta South.
He specifically said that a total of 67.58 kilometres of roads and 34.43 kilometres of drains are currently on going in the riverine areas of the state with a view to linking the dwellers there with people living upland for both economic and social integration.
Some of them are the Trans Warri- Ode-Itsekiri Access Roads Phase 1: Section 1 Ubeji to Ode-Itsekiri Roundabout with Spurs to Ijala Ugbodede, Orugbo and Ajigba – Inorin – Usele Communities and Section 11(iii) Ode-Itsekiri Internal Roads, construction of Oporoza Palace Road in Gbaramatu Kingdom, Warri South West Local Government Area and the construction of Burutu Township Roads in Burutu Local Government Area.
Others are rehabilitation/widening of Access Road to Beneku community, Ndokwa East, main axial road in Okerenkoko, Warri South West, construction of internal roads in Ikpide-Irri community, Isoko South, construction of rigid concrete pavement at Obitobon-Elolo-Ajaokurogbo-Orubu Road, Ogidigben, Warri South West, construction of Okenrekoko township roads (Phase 11), Warri South West and the rehabilitation and asphalt overlay of the Obutobo1-Obutobo11-Sokebolou-Yokri road, Burutu Local Government Area.
The economic planning commissioner noted that the state has a total of 1,121 public primary schools and 463 public secondary schools with a total population of 443,813 and 326,004 respectively, adding that the state also has 4882 students and 1,094 trainees in its 6 Technical Colleges and 4 Vocational Centres respectively.
He further said that so much work, in terms of physical structures such as new classrooms, renovation of existing ones and provision of furniture, are ongoing at a high scale as well as content issues.
The Economic Planning Commissioner noted with joy that what is outstanding is that all these are being done in a recession and at a time our resources as a state are at the lowest ebb arising from the Niger Delta crisis as evident in our rating on Economy within the time under review.
Ukah attributed all the lofty achievements of the Okowa-led administration in the state to the prudent management of available resources by the Governor.
Ukah said that the ranking did not come to him as a surprise as Okowa was determined more than ever before to take the state to greater heights in order to earn more recognition from other reputable independent organisations across the country and beyond.