Think about a street that was conceptualised over 65 years in the past simply taking off now? Segun James takes a journey on the Nigerian Coastal Highway that’s designed to deliver the coastal areas of the nation nearer
Think about going from Lagos to Warri in two hours; and cruising a street alongside the the Atlantic Shoreline and among the many mangrove forest that dots the coast of the Bight of Benin? Sound far-fetched? Not anymore.
If the primary Nigerian Coastal Highway venture from Koko in Warri North Native Authorities Space of Delta state to Lekki in Lagos State now being constructed by the Niger Delta Improvement (NDDC) involves fruition, it is going to be a dream come true. The unique plan was for a street from the Bakassi Peninsula within the East to Lagos within the West.
For 65 years, quickly after oil was first present in industrial amount within the Niger Delta space, the Nigerian Coastal Highway has been on the drafting board. However work on the strategic Nigerian Highway Venture has lastly begun now. Though the contract for the venture was signed and sealed in 2010 between the Niger Delta Improvement Fee (NDDC) and Levant Development Firm, a multinational engineering firm, the venture solely took on a quick tempo just lately after the completion of the engineering designs.
For the Itsekiri folks of Warri, who together with their neighbours, the Ijaw and the Ilaje of the Ilaje-Ese-Odo space of Ondo state, the graduation of labor on the street is an extended street to stroll. Though neighbours, it takes a number of hours of boat rides alongside the snaky waterways to get from one group to the opposite.
The Coastal Highway venture has been a strategic venture of the Federal Authorities of Nigeria proper from the colonial days. Because the oil trade turned the mainstay of the nation’s financial system, the necessity to assemble the street took an pressing flip. The federal government had realised the necessity to hyperlink the 2 most strategic areas (the oil producing areas of the Niger Delta and Lagos, the monetary powerhouse of the nation) collectively.
Spanning just a little over 200 kilometers, the Coastal Highway will, within the first part, start from Koko in Delta State passing by Okiti-Pupa in Ondo to Ijebu Waterside in Ogun State earlier than terminating at Epe/Lekki hall in Lagos state. In keeping with specialists, that is the shortest route between the 2 financial coronary heart beats of the nation.
Because the oil trade is the mainstay of the nation’s financial lifeline and Lagos, the monetary soul, bringing the 2 areas nearer is of most pressing significance.
So what has hindered the development of the street? In keeping with Prince Yemi Emiko, a retired oil trade senior govt, it’s the lack of political will on the a part of successive federal governments that’s accountable for the dearth on curiosity on the venture.
Emiko stated that though the venture was awarded in 2010 beneath the Goodluck Jonathan-led federal authorities, however work on the venture which is now at full tempo took an pressing flip beneath President Muhammadu Buhari.
In keeping with him, former Governor of Delta State, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan pushed for, not solely the award of the contract, however the state authorities truly started work on the development and spurred the federal authorities on, earlier than the NDDC to over.
This was confirmed by the Managing Director of the Levant Development, Mr. Eli Thanos who disclosed that already, 15.four kilometer of the street has been constructed as much as Ureju city. He stated the venture is now at a degree the place a bridge will likely be constructed to cross the Ologbo river because the venture strikes west.
With Koko and the Escravos oil producing areas being the primary feed level for Africa’s largest refinery beneath development, the Dangote Refinery in Lakki, the street is taken into account as crucial by the federal authorities, therefore, the urgency on the development.
The Olu of Warri, Ogiame Ikenwoli whereas on an inspection tour of the venture expressed delight on the tempo of labor occurring at the same time as he urged the federal authorities to expedite work on the venture.
The Royal Father who was accompanied on the inspection by the member of the Home of Representatives representing Warri Federal Constituency and Vice Chairman of the Home Committee on the NDDC, Chief Thomas Ereyitomi, stated he’s proud of venture at the same time as he requested the federal authorities to terminate the contract on the Koko shore shield venture, one other strategic facet of the street venture.
However the time the venture is accomplished, Koko, the second largest Itsekiri group would be the toast of the brand new improvement of the oil producing communities belt. Koko is a quick growing city that now homes numerous oil tank farms, a modular refinery which is beneath development and a college which might be devoted to the oil and fuel trade and analysis with a concentrate on engineering and marine expertise, the 2 very important trade that feeds the area.
For the now quick growing group, the final decade has been modern and improvement oriented. This has led to the constructing of a proposed college and different petro-allied operations. At present the oil trade is altering quick and the shift to secondary cities is apparent and logical. The nation’s main oil producing hubs are more and more overcrowded, over polluted and over saturated.
The historical past of the Coastal Highway has been lengthy and uneventful. By 1955, it was clear that the Niger Delta had major problem. The huge area was the least developed a part of the southern Nigeria though it contributes considerably to the nation’s financial system.
Earlier than oil was present in its bowels, it was often called the Oil River Space by the British. It as from the area that nation sources most of its timber bushes. It was additionally accountable for all of the rubbers that the nation produces. However the area was deserted regardless of the wealth that comes from the bowels of the folks’s land.
At present, the folks have soldiered on. The at the moment are one of the educated folks within the nation and extremely expert too. In keeping with Mr. Anthony Eguando, the spine of Warri’s expertise pool is the extremely educated youth; and with the proposed Warri College which will likely be a primarily analysis establishment, the persons are trying past the close to future.
Eguando insists that at this time, the Warri North axis of Delta state is opening its gates to blue-collar staff from everywhere in the nation and internationally. An unprecedented rest of guidelines in an space the place most jobs outdoors skilled and excessive talent ones are reserved just for indigenes.
On the position of presidency in growing the coastal areas of the nation, Eguando stated: “properly, personally I felt that if the federal government is critical about growing koko, as a part of the primary nationwide rolling plan this street was designed in 1955. And our forefathers the founders of this nation have been very goal of their design method as a result of from Koko Port right here, if all autos take off from Apapa, Lagos, Port Harcourt, Warri, Calabar to the north the one from Koko will get there first…
“Then quantity two, the Benin River you’re seeing right here is the deepest pure sea port in Nigeria. And the gap from right here to Epe In Lagos State scale back the journey hours by a number of hour. This hall is an alternate path to the Lagos finish. This street is just not going to be helpful simply to the Ishekiris however to the Ondo State Ilaje communities and in lower than three hours you will get to Lagos.
“I’ve taken a ship from right here to Lagos which is roughly three hours. So we’re speaking on the impression on Rivers State, these coming from Rivers, Bayelsa, Owerri, Akwa Ibom, they do not have enterprise going by the favored Lagos-Ibadan expressway. Possibly whenever you have been coming into the city you noticed Whole Producing Firm. Whole has been right here for near 50 years, they’ve an built-in facility right here. If the expatriate group or buyers can benefit from such a hall, I’m questioning what is absolutely mistaken with our authorities. On this hall, you will have Oghara, you will have Sapele, when you’ve got time we’ll undergo the waterways to see what we’re speaking about.
“That is the following hall, the gateway, so for me it isn’t sufficient, authorities ought to transcend the rhetoric, each state and federal authorities. Sadly Delta State is a pure hub for improvement within the oil sector. So there isn’t any excuse for the reckless deserted tasks for a hall that generate wealth and will generate extra if thee required infrastructure are in place.”
On the street venture, Eguando admitted that NDDC is definitely on the venture “however sadly you recognize the rot that is known as NDDC. I’m not a authorities contractor, I do not do something with them however my concern is that this space. Take a look at the shore safety. I ply my commerce from supervising tasks within the oil and fuel trade however with what now we have there, the contractor that dealt with this venture is at the moment a seating governor on this nation.
“To the very best of my information he desires to go and do street in his state, he has engaged Julius Berger, is that not wickedness? So for me just like the Olu Of Warri has rightly stated the contract ought to be cancelled. He counseled Levant for a job properly accomplished. I’m not completely completely satisfied as a result of I’m a sufferer of this corrupt system. About few weeks in the past my crane sank in a street resulting in my yard right here on a street constructed and commissioned NDDC. In order that was one of many issues that motivated me and I stated the Olu Of Warri should come right here. And we aren’t going to cease at this we’re taking it to the following stage,” Eguando insisted.
This was additionally concurred with by the President of Itsekiri Youth Affiliation, Mr. Agbateyiniro Weyinmi Isaac, who stated “it’s nonetheless stunning that the coastal street referred to as Koko-Ogheye-lagos street was a part of the primary Nigeria nationwide developmental plan initiated by chief Festus Okotiebo,the primary finance minister of Nigeria. In that grasp plan,it was meant to be a part of the street community that was to convey items and companies back and forth the koko sea port.
“Because the first republic when this street was conceptualised and inserted into the primary Nigerian nationwide developmental plan, solely the half that linked Benin from the Ologbo finish with the Ologbo bridge to koko junction after which, koko city was the half constructed whereas the related authorities saddled with the accountability to assemble this street intentionally deserted the bigger a part of the street until date.
“Whenever you think about what number of kilometres of street constructed in Nigeria from then until date with cash generated uninterruptedly from our oil and fuel, you may think about how very offended and agitated the whole Itsekiri nation is at this time.
“That our accountability is to proceed to supply and use what we produce to develop different areas with no corresponding return could be very provocative. There may be hardly any technology of presidency or company of presidency in Nigeria that has not inherited this venture and now lastly, it’s NDDC who inherited this similar venture from OMPADEC.
“Throughout this NDDC regime and with all the cash that has been pumped into NDDC and the amount of attendant corruption, solely 9 kilometer of the street has been constructed by NDDC for the previous 10 years since NDDC took over the street. No marvel some forensic auditors and specialists have rightly opined that if you wish to confirm the extent of corruption in NDDC, use the koko-ogheye-lagos street.
“Ten good years that NDDC has inserted this venture into their finances and with all the cash pumped into NDDC, lower than a kilometre of that street has been constructed in a 12 months. Is not this a monumental embarrassment? This ofcouse is just not extra that three per cent of the overall street size,” Agbateyiniro concluded.
To the Olu of Warri, Ogiame Ikenwoli, the previous 65 years has been a bumpy trip for an space that has contributed a lot to the financial system of the nation. Inside this era, he lamented, the Koko Port which is the most important inland port within the nation now not sees ship coming.
In keeping with Prince Yemi Emiko, the financial downturn of the port started when an Italian firm dumped poisonous nuclear waste at Koko. The motion of the corporate was the primary obstacle that stunted the event of the port metropolis which is lower than 20 minutes to Edo State and nearly two hours to Kogi State and just a little over three hours from Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory.
Sustainability is quick turning into an more and more vital subject in Nigeria’s financial system. With a venture equivalent to this, when accomplished, it can open a brand new vista of financial improvement for the nation.