By Ernest Chinwo
The Rivers State Government has approved the concession of existing agricultural facilities in the state to investors who are interested in bringing their expertise to bear in harnessing the potentials in the sector.
This is as the state approved the opening of the Ogbunabali Fruits Markets which was redesigned and rebuilt after the old structure was gutted by fire last year.
Addressing journalists in Port Harcourt last weekend, the state Commissioner for Agriculture, Dr. Fred Kpakol, said the concession of the agricultural facilities was part of decisions reached by the state executive council in its last meeting at the Government House, Port Harcourt, which was presided over by Governor Nyesom Wike.
He said the council’s decision was predicated on the fact that the state is being driven to become the agricultural hub of the South-south region.
Kpakol said interested investors would be expected to indicate interest in any of the agricultural facilities existing in the state.
He said there are fish farms and multi-crop School-to-Land farms in the 23 local government areas of the state including the Songhai Farms that are now available for investors who want to key into the agricultural programme of the government to achieve food security and generate employment for Rivers people.
The commissioner also said the name of the cassava plant at Afam, Oyigbo Local Government Area of the state has changed to Rivers Cassava Processing Company Limited.
Kpakol said the change became necessary because one of its partners, Datco, changed the name it used in 2011 on the contractual agreement which made it cease to be a recognised entity.
According to him, the equity share holding of the partners in the investment still stands at 70 per cent for the state government, Datco 28 per cent, while Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC) owns 2 per cent.
Also addressing journalists, the Commissioner for Health, Prof. Princewill Chike, said after the index Covid-19 case was recorded, the state government had taken measures to contain the spread of the virus in the state, adding that the success of those measures is evident in minimal spread seen.
Chike said the testing capacity of the state has also been boosted with the acquisition of testing machine by the state government, which now aids the collection of more samples daily.
The Commissioner for Special Duties, Dr. Thomas Bariere, said the council also approved the opening of the Ogbum-nu-abali Fruit Market for daily business activities beginning from Monday.
He said all allottees have been issued designated bank accounts into which to pay the required shop allocation fees and warned that any person who failed to pay within the stipulated time would risk losing ownership of the shop.
Bariere stated that all traders and members of the public going to do business at the market must observe all public health and safety standards including the use of masks.
He said there would be hand-washing facilities provided at the entrances of the market for use by people going to do business there, including the use of hand sanitisers and physical distancing must not be compromised.
On his part, the Commissioner for Information and Communications, Paulinus Nsirim, said the state has also approved guidelines to adopt by members of the public who want to bury their loved ones during this period of Covid-19 pandemic.
He urged those who want to bury their loved ones to apply to the Ministry of Health to obtain the guidelines.