Emmanuel Ugwu, Umuahia
Abia state government is inching closer to sealing a deal with the African Development Bank (AfDB) for a $200 million loan facility to be used for the rehabilitation of infrastructure, especially in the commercial city of Aba.
It emerged wednesday that the deal was in the offing when a team from the AfDB led by the Bank’s transport specialist, Mr. Mwila Aerondeal Katambula inspected some projects in Aba, which the expected loan would be used to finance.
The team, which was in Abia to ascertain how far the state had met the conditions stipulated for it to access the loan including setting up Abia State Integrated Infrastructure Management (ASIIM) and conceptual engineering designs of the projects that the Bank intends to invest in.
The state Commissioner for Works Hon Eziuche Ubani said that the Bank is interested in assisting Abia state tackle water, road, sewage and erosion problems.
At Aba, the team which also comprised officials of the Federal Ministry of Works were taken round the city to inspect the projects including Obohia, Ikot Ekpene, Ohanku , Port Harcourt roads as well as Aba water. Government has concluded plans to relocate the abattoir at the water side and turn it into a tourist site.
Prior to the visit to Aba for first hand inspection of the state of infrastructure in the city, the AfDB team held separate meetings with the state governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, the commissioner for works, his finance counterpart, Mr. Obinna Oriaku and the Speaker of Abia House of Assembly, Rt Hon Martins Azubuike.
Ikpeazu while receiving the team said Abia was eagerly awaiting the intervention of the AfDB in the rehabilitation of infrastructure in the state, especially the commercial city of Aba.
“Road infrastructure is very important to us in Aba. Apart from being the commercial nerve Centre of Abia, Aba is the SME Centre of Nigeria. Aba is very important to the economy of both Abia and Nigeria,” Ikpeazu said.
According to him, road infrastructure, waste management and storm water management remain big challenges we face in Aba, adding that “Abia State does not have the resources to do good work” on the problematic roads like Port Harcourt and Ikot Ekpene roads.
But he noted that the AfDB has “renewed our hope will come very soon and the roads will be fixed, assuring his government has done its part in doing “what is required of us in terms of ensuring that the ground work is done to enable AfDB come in.”
The AfDB team leader, Katambula said: “We are eager to participate in the development of Abia State. Our mission today is a follow up to meeting we had before, we want to ensure that everything is ready because we want to fast track the projects that the Bank will take up in Abia.”