Monorail: Wike Yet To Decide Fate Of Multi-billion Naira Project
THE multi-billion naira Rivers State monorail project initiated by former Governor Chibuike Amaechi would either be continued or abandoned by the Nyesom Wike administration when the financial position of the state is known.
Amaechi had conceived the N150bn project in 2009, believing it would be completed before he vacated office in 2015. Investigations reveal that part of the first phase of the project has already gulped over N30 billion, yet the venture is still far from completion.
The monorail was a Public Private Partnership (PPP) initiative between the state government and TSI Property and Investments Holdings Limited.
The firm was to provide 80 per cent of the financing, leaving the state government with 20 per cent. Both parties signed the agreement on October 13, 2009. And in May 2011, former President Goodluck Jonathan inaugurated the first phase.
It was, however, gathered that the initiator of the idea was not able to redeem its part of the deal, compelling the state government to bear the full financial burden.
Amaechi, against assurances that he would deliver the project before leaving the Brick House, urged Rivers people, last year, to have a rethink, as funds accruing to the state dropped from N25bn to N12bn and then to N7bn.
On whether, he would proceed with the project or not, Governor Nyeson Wike told The Guardian that he would have to study the financial strength of the state, first, before reaching a decision. Wike said: “I don’t know the financial state of Rivers State yet.
We need to look at the financial stand first before taking a decision on that. You are aware that currently, workers have not been paid. And they said there is no money to pay workers. So, we cannot talk about such projects now when workers have not eaten.
If workers do not eat, then who will do the work?” But in a more audacious tone, the state Deputy Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Nwanosike Samuel, said in a popular Radio programme in Port Harcourt that the new government would not continue with the project, stressing it was of no benefit to people of the state.
He said: “We cannot continue with such financial rascality of the monorail project because the project has no benefit.
It cannot solve the traffic situation in the state. There is an economic crisis in the state and that needs to be tackled first. It is also important to note that the new government has declared operation zero potholes in the state.
So, that, to me, is far more important to the people.” Some residents urged Wike to neglect the project, saying it is capital intensive and of little benefit. Others urged the governor to proceed with the idea, taking into consideration huge funds already injected into it.
A Port Harcourt-based lawyer, Obum Nwoye, who described the project as an unplanned venture, advised the new governor to convert the structure to an amusement centre for children.
He reasoned that it would take a lot of money to dismantle it, a lot more to complete it, and if abandoned, it would deface the city.
Another resident, Benjamin Omaeje, said, the former government made a mistake to have embarked on a project of such magnitude without proper planning and preparation.
He noted that other projects like road and water were more important to the people. “I believe in continuity. The problem affecting Nigeria today is lack of continuity.
A new governor comes in and discards projects started by his predecessor due to bitter politics. So, I want Governor Wike to make plans to proceed with the project, even if it is not immediately. A monorail project is capital intensive; one government does not complete it.
It takes 20 to 25 years to finish. Even if Wike cannot complete it, other governments after him can carry on,” said Omaeje. On his part, Chinedu Eze advised Wike to abandon the project, given the economic situation of the state.
“Before the current structure was erected, several billions was spent including paying of compensation, and yet the distance covered is useless. If the project should be continued, it means more structures will give way and more compensation will be paid,” he said.
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