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Wild snakes threaten World Bank consultants, projects in Anambra


Erosion is an ecological disaster that continues to plague Anambra State

Image: Erosion is an ecological disaster that continues to plague Anambra State

*Anambra Loses N30bn to erosion in 2014 alone – Reports

*communities interfere, arrest contractors

Strict supervision of various on-going World Bank erosion control projects in Anambra state by the Consultants are now under threat by wild snakes that have on several occasions bitten or chased the officers on field work in parts of the state.

The about eight projects currently being undertaken in parts of the state, according to the chief consultant- Mr Silver Yance of SMEC Intl Ltd were found to be progressing according to specifications, but needed some pace-up, especially now that the dry season is around.

The World Bank and the Special Climate Change Fund (SCCF) intervention projects under the programme of the Nigeria Erosion and Watershed Management Project (NEWMAP) includes the Omagba-Onitsha erosion control site, Umudunu-Abagana, Enugwu-ukwu locations both in Njikoka council area.

Others are the Abidi Umuoji, Ugamuma Obosi, and Ndiagu Ikenga Ogidi locations, three of which are within the Idemili North Council, amongst others.

About 15 new active and life threatening sites, have just been established out of the more than 1000 such sites in Anambra by the state government.

That was according to the visiting World Bank Team Leader, Dr Amos Abu, who is at the head of the inspection mission of experts from the World Bank, Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO-UN) and Federal Government officials to monitor the progress of works going on at the various sites.

The Anambra state Project Coordinator, Engr Mike Ivenso Jnr, in his appraisal report on progress made between now and the last visit by the team, complained of lack of trained and experienced manpower, as key experienced officers they had have all retired and left service. 

Among other challenges listed included the unusual heavy rains experienced this year, communities interference where they were reported to have in some instances arrested contractors and their workers, as well as the capacity of contractors.

Ivenso also disclosed that the state lost well above thirty billion naira(N30bn) worth of property in the last one year, especially those living at riverine areas.

The consultant, Mr Yance blamed inappropriate drainage systems that were often channeled into farmlands and residential quarters for the heavy flooding and gully erosion menace. 

He lamented the erosion were all life threatening because they were in densely populated areas and disclosed that about 6families have lost their homes in Ikenga Ogidi location within the last six months.

He pointed out that delayed approval of designs negatively affect the intervention works as the magnitude of the erosion often gets heavily distorted from the time of design to the time of actual approval. 

Other challenges he listed include the issue of snake attacks to him and his officers at the sites, sudden collapse of gully walls during inspection, and the hurdles and delays in securing entry visas for some of the engineers and other experts.

It was also reported that some communities refuse to vacate locations even after collecting the compensations for the locations.

Dr Abu disclosed that many potential contractors bombard his office and phones with calls over contract awards, but emphasized that the World Bank do not participate in the selection of locations or award of contracts. 

“It’s the state Project Monitoring Unit(PMU)that sets up the evaluation committee and thereafter make recommendation to the World Bank…”, he noted. 

He pointed out that NEWMAP was focused to reducing land degradation in communities and have come up with tested designs geared towards restoring hopes, lives and joy to citizens.

He confirmed that despite the prevailing cash crunch the FG and the Anambra state governments have provided their counterpart cash contributions of N500m each.

He, therefore, commended them for the cooperation. He urged communities to cooperate and assist contractors instead of confronting each other.

From Chuks Collins, Awka

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