By Adibe Emenyonu
The World Bank-assisted Nigeria Erosion and Watershed Management Project (NEWMAP) is set to award a contract for the control of erosion in Iguosa community in Ovia North East Local Government Area of Edo State.
The Commissioner for Environment and Sustainability, Mr Alex Oleije, made the disclosure on Thursday, during the presentation of compensation cheques to the Project Affected Persons (PAP) in the community.
Presenting the cheques, Oleije explained that the process is in preparation to the commencement of civil works at the Iguosa gully site.
He said that the payment, which was carried out under the auspices of the World Bank, is in compliance with the institution’s guidelines and global best practices.
According to him, “Part of the guidelines require that persons whose properties are on the right of way and would be affected by the construction work should be compensated before the commencement of civil works.”
Oleije further stated that the project is informed by the commitment of Governor Godwin Obaseki to alleviating the sufferings of the people, adding that the residents of Iguosa community have faced untold hardship on account of the gully devastation.
The commissioner, who is also the Chairman of the state Steering Committee of NEWMAP, charged the community to continue to support the efforts of the state governor as a way of encouraging him to do more for the people of Iguosa as well as the entire state.
He stressed that Governor Obaseki is well positioned to accelerate the tempo of development in the state through investment in infrastructure.
The commissioner commended the residents of the community and the PAPs for their patience and cooperation with NEWMAP and enjoined the beneficiaries to utilize the funds religiously and judiciously for their households.
Earlier, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry and Chairman of the state Technical Committee of NEWMAP, Mr Lucky Wasa, described the Iguosa gully project as a reality and called on members of the community to cooperate with the contractors for the speedy completion of the job.
Similarly, the state Project Coordinator of NEWMAP, Dr Tom Obaseki, disclosed that the presentation of cheques to the PAPs is “the last activity before the bulldozers would move into the community to commence construction work”.
The coordinator explained that the project is of great concern to the governor, who had to make a special case to the World Bank for the emergency work which would dovetail into the permanent construction work.
He pointed out that the emergency work, which is to halt the level of devastation, would be completed in three months before the permanent work, adding that evaluation of the bids for the permanent job had been completed, while the contract would soon be awarded.
Speaking on behalf of the community and the PAPs, the Chairman of the Iguosa Gully Site Committee, Mr John Nwangene, expressed gratitude to Governor Obaseki for saving lives and properties in the community.
Nwangene explained that the residents of Iguosa Housing Estate, who are mainly retired public servants, would remain forever grateful to the governor for taking it upon himself for the actualisation of the project, which according to him, “had gone beyond everybody’s comprehension”.
The Iguosa Flood and Gully Erosion Remediation Works is one of the 12 sites where construction work is on-going by NEWMAP in the state.
The interventionist agency had before now successfully delivered the gully projects in Oshiobugie-Auchi in Etsako West as well as in Queen Ede and Ekehuan, both in Benin City.