Flooding: Sad Story Of Expensive…Idle Equipment

Amphibex At Work

An Amphibex 400 machine at work

Use Machine To Save Our Lives, Cry Riverine Communities
‘Speed Up Action On Alape Inland Port’ 

PEOPLE in the riverine communities of Ondo State have called on the Federal Government and the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) to save them from ecological disasters and consequent economic loss.

The affected communities include the Ijaw, Ilaje and Apoi-speaking people of Ilaje and Ese-Odo Local Government Areas (LGAs) of Ondo South Senatorial District, and the Ikale people of Okitipupa and Irele LGAs.

They complained of flooding among coastal settlements, a situation which has reportedly displaced many people, and failure by the state government to solve the problem.

They noted that shrubs and hyacinths hinder free flow of excess water from the River Niger, thereby triggering flooding.

But a machine, purchased by the state government and capable of clearing the waterways, appears to have been bogged down over some disagreement on money between Proquip Nigeria Limited, the firm that procured the equipment and the Ondo State Ministry of Transport, with Proquip imploring the state government to pay “us the balance of our money plus the devaluation, so that we can meet up their own requirement, train their people and put the equipment to use.”

A victim from the oil producing Mahin Kingdom, Chief Odidiomo Taiwo, blamed the flooding on global climate change. He said that although the people had been warned of alteration in the climate, there was little they could really do, hence the appeal to government and relevant authorities.

He lamented what he described as nonchalant attitude and negligence of government towards riverine communities, which, according to him, are the hens that lay golden eggs for the state and the federation.

“Why would they (government) bother? Why would Governor Mimiko listen to the persistent cry of the people, when he and his family live on land? The people in authority have no families living along the coastal line. We provide resources for the state and nation from our devastated areas, yet they have abandoned us this much,” said Chief Taiwo.

A man, who pleaded anonymity in Ilaje said the immediate past administration in the state had informed prominent traditional rulers that the state government awarded contract for and ordered a machine that could clear the waterways.

He appealed to the state government and contractors to make judicious use of the people’s tax by putting the machine to work.

In a related development, people in the riverine area also lamented delay in kick-off of the proposed Inland Port on River Alape in Ilaje Local Government Area, accusing the state government of neglecting the area, and ignoring its economic potentials.

In a telephone conversation, Samuel Osunde, the Business Manager of Proquip Nigeria Limited, the company that procured the machine, confirmed that the contract to purchase the Amphibex 400 was awarded to his firm in 2007 by late Dr Olusegun Agagu.

He said: “The administration of late Agagu awarded the contract to us. But the present administration initially thought the equipment was a ruse.

It never believed it was real,” adding that the machine was purchased at a cost of $1.5million. “If you go there now, the equipment is rusting.

When we brought it, it was brand new and shiny. It is a highly sophisticated equipment manufactured for high performance. But there in Akure, it is abandoned; it is not supposed to be exposed like that.

Even after use, it should be parked in a protected area to keep it from harsh atmospheric condition,” Osunde said. It was tough getting the Ondo State Commissioner of Transport, Mr. Nicholas Tofowomo, to react.

On five separate occasions, he came up with excuses on why planned meetings to discuss the fate of the machine could not hold. Last Thursday, however, he delegated his Press Officer, Mr. Christopher Akanbiemu, to speak on the Amphibex 400 Machine and the Alape Inland Port.

Akanbiemu said delay in putting the machine to work was due to transition in government, adding that the ministry would embark on training of personnel on the equipment, as soon as the contractor is ready. He also noted that global decline in the international oil market has had adverse effects on the economy and projects by the government.

On the Inland Port initiative, he said the Commissioner of Transport has been playing active roles in the National Council on Transportation, and that at meetings held in Enugu and Lagos, he has advocated speedy implementation of the project.

He added that the project committee inaugurated by the governor has completed its task and was now waiting for the Federal Government to implement its next line of action.

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