Home Uncategorized World Bank Erosion Control Projects Abandoned in Cross River, Community Kicks

World Bank Erosion Control Projects Abandoned in Cross River, Community Kicks

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Andy Esiet , Calabar

Ikot Nkebre Erosion site

Five World Bank erosion control projects worth billions of Naira have been abandoned in Cross River state due to alleged interference by immediate past government.

The five projects are Ikot Uduak,  Ikot Effanga,  Edim Otop 2, Itate in Yala local government council , Igaba in Obudu council and as at June last year when World Bank ended the programme only about  60 percent work have been done.

Reliable sources said top government officials and associates in former governor Ben Ayade’s government insisted on handling the projects despite World bank standards and guidelines as they wanted an upfront payment but World Bank declined since it was not their policy.

Eventually the contractors and government associates close to the former governor could only do 60 percent as at June last year as they lacked the competence to execute the job in accordance with World Bank standard . 

Officials in Cross River Nigeria Erosion and Watershed Management Projects (CR-NEWMAP) declined comments since there was no substantive Coordinator in charge but top sources in the NEWMAP said, “there is nothing we can do now since the phase one of the projects ended in June last year. Yes there were some interference by officials and associates of former government hence the work in all the five sites could not be completed as expected.

“We hope the new government will look into these areas and encourage the World Bank to come in. There is nothing that can be done in those areas for now except state government can convince the World Bank to come back and at the same time cause the contractors or government associates that handled all the five projects to come back to site in line with World Bank standard”. 

The sources further stated that the phase two of the World Bank erosion control projects is expected to start in the state next month in five new sites of Ikot Efa, Ikot Eneobong, Enima Omin, Jonathan Bye Pass in Calabar Municipality, Ekeya Street in Calabar South Local government council and Agiga in Ogoja council .

Worried by current situation, the Land Lords of Lower Ikot Nkebre in Ikot Nkebre, Calabar Municipality sent a Save Our Soul (S O S) message to the state government through the Cross River Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), saying so much havoc has been done on Ikot Nkebre as roads in the community are cut off and houses still under threat were never attended to, even as they are within the disaster area.

The letter which was signed by their Chairman, Mr Edu Edmond Isang and Secretary, OtoAbasi Uwatt appealed “to the Governor of Cross River State, Cross River State House of Assembly, National Assembly, and all relevant government agencies, to please revisit the Ikot Nkebre Erosion control project and the community roads, to ensure that all the state tax payers’ money that will be used to pay back this loan is not wasted”.

They urged the government to go the extra mile in the principle of accountability, “by recovering all diverted funds from the project, and properly channel same to effectively complete and make Ikot Nkebre Erosion control a project that will stand the taste of time, and also to prevent further loss of lives and properties in the community as a result of the disastrous state of the project.

“We strongly desire a forensic probe of this project, and culprits brought to book, in order to serve as a deterrent to others, who will be vested with such responsibilities in future. We remain peaceful and committed to the success of this administration, and also desire to see a Cross River State, where things are seen to be working”.

They wondered “if the World Bank monitors and supervisors would be bold enough to tell the world that this project, given the enormous amount expended, will pass for a fully executed project and what is the expected life span of this project; as it still possess as a disaster in the current stage of abandonment?”

Residents of lower Nkebre being the area most affected, and her neighbour (Ikot Eneobong) are very worried because, having been privileged to have World Bank intervention was an opportunity that ought to be maximally utilized, rather than this shabby job, not befitting to be called a World Bank Erosion control project.

They said, “similar intervention  projects executed in nearby Major Esang in Ikot Ekpo, 8 miles or Ikot Anwatim in Ikot Ansa area, both in Calabar municipality, were satisfactory delivered to these other communities but the reverse is the case in Ikot Nkebre Layout because the contractors were not just incompetent but the project was a looting Avenue by some government agencies”.

The community pointed out that “trouble started in the year 2006 when the Cross River State government awarded a contract for the construction of drainages to evacuate flood water from the 8 miles axis of the Muritala Mohammed Highway, through Agrofeed in Ikot Eneobong, and around First Bank 8 miles area through Ikot Nkebre, with both drainages terminating at lower Nkebre. The poor termination of these drainages caused it to develop into a serious erosion crisis that could well be described as a disaster, which almost consumed Ikot Nkebre but for the intervention of the World Bank through the Cross River State government in the year 2017.

“The project was contracted to Akpaven Integrated Services a company seem to have little or no capacity to handle work of such magnitude. The company started work on the site around November 2017, and by March 2018 was nowhere to be found, only to resurface in the year 2020 after the devastation had increased”.

On resumption of work, they said the community was asked to form several committees to interface with the construction company and Cross River-NEWMAP, some of which were; Welfare, Sanitation and Project monitoring committees, just to mention but a few. The welfare committee had as its responsibility to ensure the nomination of those from the affected areas for empowerment, training and oversee the installation of water harvesting tanks by the providers, confirm the installation of solar street lighting in the community.

The Sanitation committee was saddled with the responsibility of ensuring that no refuse was dumped in the channel under construction, and also to ensure the cleanliness in the project environment. While the Project monitoring committee headed by the former Deputy Speaker of Cross River State House of Assembly Hon. Patrick Ene, was to constantly interface with the construction company to ensure that the work was done as specified in the design. The committees were dead on arrival, as they were not allowed to see the light of the day by the Construction Company and CR-NEWMAP because of their intention to cut corners and thereby divert tax payers funds meant for the project at the expense of the community. Thus Ikot Nkebre roads that were cut off by the Erosion were never recovered.

The State Governor, Senator Bassey Otu, recently visited some erosion sites in Calabar (not the abandoned ones) and called on the World Bank to provide assistance in addressing environmental concerns within the state emphasizing on the need for urgent intervention.

Referring to the erosion site in Yellow Duke, he said, “we cannot allow something like this in the middle of the town. Looking at this it must have taken a lot of lives, and property. The World Bank has intervention programmes which I intend to follow up with, and this has informed my being here”.

His Chief Press Secretary, Emmanuel Ogbeche, had said the governor considered the inspection of the erosion sites important so as to know the extent of erosion challenges in Calabar and other parts of the state.

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