City Life

A Bayelsa community’s 60-year wait for a modern amenity

It is a well-known fact that most of the Niger Delta, especially Bayelsa State, is almost below sea level which is the reason why almost all the communities in this part of the world are connected through water. For instance people from Southern Ijaw, Ekeremor and most parts of Sagbama, Yenagoa, Ogbia, and Nembe in fact all the local governments in the time past were connected through the water ways. Although it was only until recently that roads started getting to some of the communities, most of the communities are still being accessed via water and the locals pay heavily to get to Yenagoa, the state capital.

That was the reason why the joy of people of Aguobiri community in Southern Ijaw Local Government of the state knew no bounds when a brand new road passed through their community as most of them expressed when New Telegraph visited recently. They were full of praises for the government of Douye Diri, whom they said has made them to have a sense of belonging that the community is part of Bayelsa State.

For Governor Diri, he may not be a media personality that showcases his works in the media but honestly his administration is doing a lot of things in the state that are under reported. The most important one is the serene peace that Bayesians are enjoying even to the level of these far-flung communities that new roads are passing through.

In time past, the youths of these communities would have come with their troubles maybe because they had not been “settled” or “carried along”; but in the case of the present administration Diri has made sure that most of the youths were captured in the projects with the women being provided with canoes to go to their farmlands as the Sylva River is blocked for now. At the site of the project, the visibly happy youths were full of praise for the governor and the Commissioner for Works, Moses Teibowei whom they said God will give long lives.

They expressed their joy that for once a state government has remembered them by constructing a road to their community – something they said they have been expecting for the past 60 years. They said now they have felt that they are part of Bayelsa State thanking Governor Douye Diri who made that possible. According to 30-year-old Madam Nanatimi Bruce: “I’m grateful to God for allowing me to see a road cross through my community in my life time.

“I had not been born when they first awarded the contract for this road I was told. But all the governors that have been in charge of the state had ignored the road but Governor Diri ended this ugly trend and constructed the road. “They even brought canoes for us when we (women) were crying that we can’t access our farms.

They noticed that Aguobiri people are suffering and they brought canoes for us. I thank them so much. “However, we also want them to bring strong chains and good padlocks so that thieves will not be able to steal the canoes.” However, like the proverbial Oliver Twist, even though Madam Bruce is more than happy with the recent development in the community, but she still wants more. “Let them please do the small road to our community and give us portable water,” she pleaded. Also speaking, another indigene, Omoku Labor said: “We are very happy for this road that the Bayelsa State government is doing for us. We are very glad for the commissioner and the governor. Two of them did this road for us. “It is now we know that government has Aguobiri at heart. It is now we know that we are part of Bayelsa. “We thank the governor for making the road to get to our community.

“The old people are praying for him. Now some keke (tricycles) are entering the community because the road has got to the community from Yenagoa. Now people move to even Angaiama. “Before we were paying like N1, 000 to go to Yenagoa but now we pay only N500 and at times it is even just N300.

“He brought canoes for people that are farming so that they can easily access their farms lands.” Also Daniel Ayo Awe, the local chief security officer in charge of the road, said: “The youths are happy because we have never seen this kind of thing before in our life.

This miracle governor has done a lot of things even our grandmothers are very happy about. Even vehicles have now driven to our community because of the road that the governor constructed for us. “He has done it so that in future all the small crimes of entering people’s houses will reduce because of the road. All the youth are working now. We are so glad we are happy.” Speaking on behalf of the government, the Commissioner for Works, Teibowei confirmed that the road was first awarded about 60 years ago but added that the prosperity government has been able to take the road to the community.

He said: “The road project started in 1960 when the Southern Ijaw people visited Professor Sikoke but the project is actually from Yenagoa to Ukubie (another community in the area).” Teibowei continued: “We are working hard to take the road to Oporoma, the headquarters of Southern Ijaw Local Government. We are already 15 kilometres from Yenagoa. “We have provided 20 canoes and we are working on an additional 20 and we will later dash them as gifts as part of the ‘Prosperity Administration’. “The governor also gave approval to link up Aguobiri and Igeibiri communities. We are yet to complete the documentation for the two roads to be constructed.

“The marshy nature of the environment is responsible for the high cost of infrastructure development in the state compared to other states, especially in the northern part of the country. “The span where we are now is at 15 kilometres from Yenagoa and we are going an additional 6.8 kilometres to Angiama where a 640 meters bridge will be constructed across the River Nun.

So we still have 6.8 kilometres to go. If you add it to the 15 kilometres already completed we are talking about 22 kilometres of road we are constructing. “The target is that the 6.8 kilometres across the Silver River is what we intend to achieve.

By the end of this year, we want to ensure that even if it is not asphalted, His Excellency will be able to drive to the point where the bridge will be constructed across the River Nun; and the foundation stone for the bridge will be laid to mark his second anniversary in office. “The truth of the matter is that our terrain is difficult in terms of road construction because our environment is what God gave to us compared to the north. “Here, first and foremost, you have to clear the thick forest of palm trees and other big trees you meet. You are expected to remove the top soil. That is also additional work which you have to use heavy duty equipment.

After that, you have to create a bond-wall. But if you are working in the north, you don’t need to bother yourself with anything like a bond-wall. “Here, you must create a bond-wall. After that, you need to stockpile sand and sand-fill the right of way: 1.5 meters, 2 meters and sometimes beyond 2 meters you are sand-filling.

So the cost element is there. We are not just talking of grading the road, putting a stone base and putting your asphalt. “You have to make embankments on both sides. Then you dredge and move. If the distance is long, you have to stockpile sand at a particular point and use dumpers to move the sand to fill the right of way. “If it is close to a river, you pipe and dredge sand directly on the right of way before using dumpers to spread the sand.

Then, you have to compact to a particular height to stabilise the road before you compact again with sand-cement stabilisation before putting your stone base. Then, you put your binder course and wearing curse. All these add to the cost of the project. “The current span of work will cost N1.5 billion to get to the road to Aguobiri and about N3 billion for the Aguobiri Bridge at Silver River, while the remaining 6.8-kilometre stretch will gulp N6 billion and about N10 billion for the 640-meter bridge to cross the River Nun to Oporoma.

“We are paying our contractors and we strongly believe that the government will continue to pay within our available resources. If there will be a need for the government to borrow for any of these projects, his Excellency will say that but for now we have not gone to borrow money to fund any of these projects.

“For now I will say that we don’t have any major challenge in terms of security. People are not saying that this project should stop, not even at the Unity Bridge at Nembe. We have never encountered any security problem in any of our project sites. “We thank God for the person he gave to us a governor. A man of peace. A man that loves the people and a man that who is out to do his work the way he feels it should be done.”

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