The oil-bearing communities in Ilaje Local Government Area of Ondo State now have cause to smile as work on the multi billion naira Ugbo-Oghoye Road has been stepped up to ensure that it was completed on schedule.
The 21.4-kilometre regional road with 4 bridges, being constructed by the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, would connect various riverine communities that were hitherto inaccessible by road.
Speaking during an inspection tour on Friday, the NDDC Managing Director, Sir (Barr) Bassey Dan-Abia, observed that the project was very strategic as it would eventually link up with the Koko-Oghoye Road taking off from Koko in Warri North Local Government Area of Delta State. Sir Dan-Abia, who led a team of NDDC officials to the site of the first bridge where pilling was in progress, said that the communities should thank President Goodluck Jonathan for making it possible for the commission to undertake such a gigantic project
The NDDC chief executive noted the enormous challenges posed by the swampy environment and appealed for more understanding for the delays in executing road projects in most parts of the Niger Delta. He said: “This Ilaje area is a typical Niger Delta terrain and I wish other Nigerians will appreciate the peculiar problems we encounter in the region. With this kind of setting, people should not be surprised that the cost of executing projects is usually huge. However, we look forward to driving on this road to Ayetoro in no distant time.”
Barr. Dan-Abia commended the people of Ilaje LGA for their patience and understanding, especially for providing the enabling environment for the contractors to do their work, which he observed was progressing satisfactorily.
Briefing the NDDC boss and other top officials of the commission, Mr. Augustus Owowa, the project consultant, gave a graphic picture of what it takes to build a road in the swamps. “We have to fill up to 4 metres with sharp sand to stabilize the soil. Here we are working on the first bridge and we have drilled 63 metres deep, yet we are still coming up with clay soil. Such challenges will invariably lead to variations in the designs,” he said.
The NDDC team also inspected the 10.5-kilometre Igbokoda-Orere Ara road which had been completed and was ready for commissioning. After driving through the 7.3-metre-wide asphalted road with side drains, Barr. Benson Amuwa, the representative of Ondo State on the NDDC Governing Board, explained that the road would link Igbokoda, the commercial nerve centre of Ilaje, to Orere Zion, Orere Ara, and several other neighbouring communities.
He said that several other communities in the area were looking forward to the commencement of the second phase of the project which would take the road to Orere Ara town and beyond and thus give the people the full value of the first segment that had been completed.
Barr. Amuwa also led the inspection of the 3-kilometre Ugbonla township roads laid with interlocking stones. He said that the NDDC had brought life back to the town, which was virtually abandoned when there was no road to access the fishing community.
At the University of Science and Technology proto-type hostel project in Okitipupa, the NDDC team was confronted with an unsatisfactory performance by the contractor. The NDDC MD expressed dissatisfaction with the pace of work at the site and ordered the consultant to the project to prepare a status report on the project for the commission as soon as possible.