BY UBON EKANEM, CALABAR – Succour has come to the erosion ravaged Ikot Nkebre Community in Calabar, Cross River State capital, thanks to the commencement of the N3 bilion World Bank Erosion Control project in the area.
Packaged under the Bank’s African Development Initiative, the 2.6 kilometer erosion control protect has 18 months lifespan with provision for payment of compensation to all those who lost their residential quarters in the disaster.
Flagging off the project at Ikot Nkebre community, located within the Eight (8) miles axis of Calabar Municipality, State Coordinator for Nigeria Erosion and Watershed Management Project (NEW MAP), Dr. Fidelis Anukwa lauded the World Bank for its intervention in addressing the ugly situation.
He said the Cross River State government is fully committed to having in place requisite administrative logistics for effective and successful delivery of the project.
Dr. Anukwa however apologised to the community over delay in starting the projects well as the untold suffering experienced by the people as they helplessly watched their property and houses being destroyed daily by erosion
He urged the contractor to regard the project as a litmus test for his engineering firm to acquit itself as a reputable outfit and demonstrate to the world that Nigerian engineers can compete favourably on the global stage in delivering sensitive projects that require high level technical expertise.
In his response, the contractor, Engineer Adedeji Ayo of Akpaven Integrated Services Nigeria Ltd pledged his company’s resolve to meet the project implementation timeline, given that Cross River is located within the rainforest region.
He also assured the community of speedy and successful delivery of the project given that the World Bank has a dynamic way of supervising and monitoring their projects’ implementation.
Engineer Ayo said the firm had to pass through rigorous World Bank technical screening process before being awarded the contract, assuring that with initial technical and administrative bottlenecks that hindered commencement of work at the project site amicably sorted out, they were now ready to do their best in delivering the project on schedule.
According to him. the compensation payment plan does not cover those that lost their lives to the ravaging erosion as the World Bank project does not have provision for payment of death benefits, except for houses lost to the erosion menace.
In his remarks, Chairman of the Ikot Nkebre community, Etubom Eyo Ita Eyo who expressed delight over the commencement of work at the erosion site, said so far, about 53 houses have been lost to erosion.
He applauded Governor Ben Ayade for declaring Ikot Nkebre as an erosion disaster area, noting that the decision not only drew the World Bank’s attention to the Community’s plight, but also led to its financing intervention.
Etubom Ita Eyo pleaded with the State government to direct various Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) contractors to guard against activities that could hinder the smooth progress of work through their multiple demand for payment of various forms of tax from the contracting firm.