By Samuel Oyadongha
YENAGOA—THE resumption of work on the Yenagoa-Oporoma Road linking the vast mangrove swamp of Southern Ijaw Local Government Area to mainland Yenagoa, Bayelsa State capital, has again ignited fresh hope for indigenes of the area.
Ongoing road project
The project when completed, is expected to transform the fortunes of the oil and gas-rich, but neglected communities in the council area, majority of which are not accessible by road.
Recession slows down work
Niger-Delta Voice recalled that the speed at which the job was handled at the commencement of the project had fuelled public confidence that the road would hit Oporoma, the council headquarters, in record time.
However, the project suffered a setback in the wake of the recession that rocked the nation as government could not meet its contractual obligation due to the fall in allocation from the federation accounts.
Interestingly, the Governor Seriake Dickson-led administration has again rekindled the hope that Oporoma, headquarters of Southern Ijaw Council Area and its adjoining communities would be accessible by road in no distant time by re-mobilising to site, the Chinese owned construction company, China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation, CCECC, handling the road project.
Already, the road project which started at the Swali bridge end on the Yenagoa axis, has made Obogoro in Yenagoa LGA, Ayama and Igeibiri communities in Southern Ijaw LGA accessible by road, while massive sand-filling and work on the connecting bridge are ongoing on the remaining stretch of the road to Oporoma, headquarters of Southern Ijaw Council Area.
Some indigenes of the area who spoke to NDV expressed joy over the commitment of the state government to the project and urged the Federal Government to assist the state in ensuring its quick completion.
Road, luxury to our people
“Road which is being taken for granted in some parts of this country is a luxury to our people. The vast majority of our communities can only be reached through water. We have the least kilometres of federal roads in Bayelsa State.
“The situation is worst in Southern Ijaw Council Area which has some of the biggest crude oil clusters in the Niger- Delta and is also home to the oil majors, Shell Petroleum Development Company, SPDC, Nigerian Agip Oil Company, NAOC, Chevron Nigeria Limited, CNL and several other oil servicing companies.
Decries Federal Govt’s neglect
“This is a sad commentary of our skewed federalism. The Yenagoa-Oporoma road in the central zone is one of three senatorial roads that has been on the Federal Government drawing board since the sixties and yet left for the state to bear the burden alone.
“The Federal Government should do the needful by taking over the road and that of the Sagbama-Ekeremor-Agge in the West Senatorial District as that of the East Senatorial District from Nembe to Brass on the seashores to compensate Bayelsa as the cradle of the nation’s oil and gas industry,” said Amos Daukeyi.
Can’t wait to drive to our communities
Another indigene of the area, who simply gave his name as Ayaoge said: “The road project is very dear to us and it is our fervent prayer that the state finances improves to enable the state government deliver on its promise to complete the project. This will no doubt accelerate development and improve security in our communities.”
For Ebikeye, he said: “We are looking forward to the day we will hear drivers calling on passengers, ‘Oporoma, Oporoma’ as they now call ‘Amassoma; Toru-Orua, Angalabiri, Ofoni, Ayama, Igeibiri, and other communities in the state which hitherto could only be accessed through water.”
Project, a priority—Dickson
NDV recalled that Governor Dickson during his 2018 budget presentation to the state House of Assembly had said “our projection is to further advance the senatorial roads. By January, contractors will be mobilised to the Yenagoa-Oporoma road.
“We intend in the first and second quarter of next year to conclude the sand-filling of that very important road and then commence construction. We may not be able to achieve completion to Oporoma, but we will try our best.”