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Bayelsa Govt calls for tripartite funding arrangement for Akenfa bridge project

The Bayelsa Deputy Governor, Mr. Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, has called for a tripartite funding arrangement for the Akenfa Bridge project.

The project was awarded by the Niger Delta Development Commission in 2009.

Ewhrudjakpo, made the call on Tuesday, during a meeting with Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) and representatives of the Akenfa Community in Government House, Yenagoa.

The deputy governor explained that the proposed funding arrangement is expected to involve SPDC, NDDC and the state government.

He said when completed, the bridge, which is being built across the Epie Creek, will link Akenfa I and II communities, would also serve as a spur to the Igbogene-Government House Gateway Road

Describing the project as strategic, Ewhrudjakpo, pointed out that the bridge would also serve as a spur to the Igbogene-Government House/Gateway Road currently under construction by the Chinese Civil Engineering Construction Company (CCECC).

He noted with concern, reports of people drowning in the Epie Creek during the floods due to the inability of the NDDC to complete the project after more than a decade.

Underscoring the importance of the project, the deputy governor expressed readiness of the present administration to contribute towards the completion of the Bridge to alleviate the sufferings of the people.

He, therefore, directed his Chief of Staff, Mr. Alex Dumbo, to arrange for a meeting between the NDDC, SPDC and the state government to discuss terms and conditions of funding the remaining part of the job.

Ewhrudjakpo used the opportunity to commend the Akenfa Community for their peaceful disposition, especially for heeding government’s advice of allowing MORPOL, an Oil servicing company, to continue its work on a Shell pipeline project in their area.

“We are suggesting a tripartite funding arrangement involving NDDC, Shell and the state government like we did on the Ogbia-Nembe and Etegwe-Tombia road projects, where refunds were made to the state government after completion of the projects.

“We are not making this suggestion because we have enough money. No, we are making it because that Project is very strategic and important not only to the people of Akenfa Community but to the state in general.

“We are now constructing the Ecumenical Centre (Igbogene)-Government House stretch of the Gateway Road.

“If that bridge is completed, it will now serve as a spur so that those who want to cross over to other side of Akenfa can do so with ease.

“Another nagging problem is the drowning or loss of lives every year in that area due to the high current during the floods following the construction works done there.

“We can’t afford to allow this loss. So, we attach urgency to the completion of the bridge.

“We believe Shell and Government have to sit together with NDDC to look at three areas. First, we need to know how much NDDC has actually paid and the extent of work done.

“We will set up a joint project team to visit the site and ascertain what is left to be done and how much is required to get the remaining work done and how much each party will bring to the table.

“When the project is completed, then NDDC will refund us whatever we paid the contractor to finish the job so that we can sleep peacefully. We should adopt this collective approach to get this problem solved,” he said.

Responding to questions, the External Relations Manager, SPDC, Mr. Evans Krukrubo, stated that the company was not part of the contract arrangement for the construction of the Akenfa Bridge.

Krukrubo said Shell makes a three per cent statutory contribution from its annual budget to NDDC to enable the Commission carry out its developmental projects in the Niger Delta.

While expressing Shell’s commitment to working with the state government to ensure the completion of the project, Krukrubo urged Akenfa and other communities to make judicious use of funds accruing to them to avoid distrust and unnecessary conflicts. (NAN)

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