for the promotion of good governance

TAMING THE FLOOD

0

“l can tell you without equivocation that the Abia Project Management Unit of NEWMAP is the best in the country” INTRODUCTION: I am lzuchukwu Onwuhara. I am a Civil Engineer and the Project Coordinator oi the Abia State Management Unit, Nigeria Erosion and Watershed Management Project. I am a civil servant with the Ministry ot Works -serving in this Project on secondment. The stafiing model for NEWMAP is for all stafi to be civil servants who are seconded to this project and at the expiration oi this project, we revert to our parent ministries, unless perhaps, we are retained when the project becomes an Agency. So essentially, I am a civil servant and all members of the stah‘ here. I had a BSO in Civil engineering. I am also an @ ABIATODAYJANUARYZOZO Environmental Engineer. I’m a Structural Engineer and I am also a member of the Nigeria Institute of Public Relations. Abia Today; WhaI”s the idea behind NEWMAP ‘.7 EIO: The idea behind Abia NEWMAP is to make it the flagship of all development projects in Abia State. To make it the best PMU in Nigeria and to deliver without reservations on the project development objectives of this Project as taras this State is concerned. Abia Today 1 What strategies do you intend to apply in order to actualize this idea ? SPECIAL FEATURE UMUEZEUKWU GULLY SITE REMEDIATION B0. .~ ‘- v EIO: Our strategies are very direct. In football it would be what is called, massive attack and massive defence. One, we are engaging on not only the intelligence quotient of our people but also on their social and emotional quotient. We believe that the human factor drives and gives depth, breath and essence to what we do. The best of engineering designs, the best of financial management strategies, the best of bioengineering without the human capacity and a human team to deliver it will amount to .- “‘ -4» ..,-v nothing. So primarily, we’ll make sure we build a winning team, wherein every member of the team is on a platform of win – win. I can tell you without equivocation that the Abia Project Management Unit of NEWMAR is the best in the country. We have a family behavior and as a family we are delivering on what we are called to do. Abia Today : What exactly are you called to do? EIO: We are called to primarily, reduce the vulnerability of environment to soil erosion or land ABIA TODAYJANUARY 2020 degradation on targeted sub- catchments. What that means is that there are several gully erosion sites and they exist within what we call sub=catchments. When each erosion site is picked, it has to be prioritised. We are not working in isolation. The government, working through the Steering Committee and the Technical Committee, which serve as Boards overthis Project, determines what site per time are to be intervened in. When government gives us this, we run with that vision. So those prioritised, we can now say they are targeted and for each of them are picked, we take to our Consultants. We have an Engineering, Design and Supervision Firm that is engaged to prepare our designs and to also engage engineers that will supervise when contractors are eventually deployed to those sites. Ourgoal isto make sure that wherever we enter, the gullies that are identified are remediated and we begin to not only stop erosion, but to also reverse the process of other gullies developing so that holistically, we halt the incidence of land degradation by erosion in any sub-catchment that we enter into. Not only do we do that by our constructions, we also make sure that the human activities, the livelihood schemes of the residents of these communities are improved upon, such that in the long run, much anthropogenic activities that exacerbate or give rise to erosion, are broughtto a minimum. Abia Today: How do you pick your “Our work in Abia is transformational. When you join it with what other donor agencies are bringing to the table in Abia State, it’s only a matter of time before Abians begin to change their language and appreciate the ingenuity of Governor Okezie lkpeazu” SPECIAL FEATURE consultants ? El0: We pick the consultants through a very transparent process called QCBS. When a consultant is selected, he runs with the Project for a period of two years. During this period, they are responsible for preparing the designs and they also supervise work ongoing at the sites. Abia Today: What’s the quality of contractors you engage? I will say that our contractors are top notch because it is by open engagement thatthey are chosen. They are selected by World Bank approved procurement process. Where the jobs are of minimal value, we engage them through a process we call National Competitive Bidding. If they are large works, we engage such contractors through a process called International Competitive Bidding. In each case, the project that’s about to be engaged in, is advertised in a minimum of about two national dailies and also at the United Nations Doing Business Online Platform, such that contractors from around the globe are free to bid for those jobs and then the process of evaluation and eventual selection of these contractors is very, very transparent. Other bodies apart from the NEWMAP workforce are usually invited both as observers and also to be involved in the actual evaluation to finally select the service provider or contractor. Abia Today: So far, can you appraise the performance of abia newmap? EIO: We have a modest list of achievements trailing our course. When the project started, we had three sites already designed and cleared by the World Bank and those sites where ABIATODAYJANUARY 2020 Umuezukwu Nsulu, in lsialangwa North LGA. We also had Amuzukwu lbeku in Umuahia North LGA and the site at Amuda Achara in Umunneochi LGA. We quickly went to work and the procurement processes were done and contractors were selected for these sites. That was in 2014 but these contractors were not able to start work until the advent of this administration in 2015 because we lacked the counterpart funds to implement the compensation packages to the community members that we might be infringing on their rights to theirlanded properties orcash crops. When Dr. Okezie lkpeazu came on board in 2015, he approved the first tranche of counterpart funds, with which these compensation activities were carried out between January and March of 2016 and then, by April, 2016, the contractors went to site. As at today, the site at Umuezukwu Nsulu has been completed. A gully stretching about one kilometers and at some point, as wide as twenty meters and as deep as twenty to twenty five meters, has been reclaimed and the road that was already cut oft has been restored. The community also pleaded for the asphalting of that stretch of roads, which the Governor graciously obliged them and the contractor was given additional jobs and so the asphalting ofthe road was done. Atotal length of 2.5 kilometers. The Governor commissioned that road nottoo long ago. We also have an achievement in Umuogele Umuakwu in lsialangwa North, where also a gully that stretches over 1.2 kilometers has been totally reclaimed and the road restored and asphalted up-to a length of 2.5 kilometers, with drainage structures on both sides of the road and a bridge, a 3 x 3 box covered bridge along their only source of water; their river in that community, was SPECIAL FEATURE also constructed. As part of the corporate social responsibility from Government, while that job was going on, their community hallwasrebuiltandtheir only source of water apart from the stream, a borehole, was rehabilitated by giving them a solar powered generator that draws water for that borehole till today. Still on ourachievements. The first phase of the gully in our Amuzukwu site has been completed but while work on that site was going on, two other fingers developed to the left and right of the finger we were working on and the Governor graciously allowed us to institute additional works and the additional works are nearing completion in Amuzukwu rightaway. We have our fourth site completed at Umuahia lbeku and it stretches through Umuda lsingwu and Amafor lsingwu. It’s a gully complex that ravaged the Primary school and that gully has been totally controlled and totally restored and there is peace in that environment. Attendant to that gully, there was the need to handle some internal roads within Umuagu, that came up to 2.8 kilometers and then the major road between Ossai and Umuda lsingwu, within that same locality, a length of road of about 3.8 kilometers, was also constructed with a standard bridge across their lwu/Obowo River. That job has been completed and had also been commissioned by the Governor. Our fifth site, is at Amuda lsuochi and that’s the gully that connects Amuda with Achara. That gully was awarded at the same time with Amuzukwu and Umuezukwu. The contractor then was Marlom Nigerian Limited. Somewhere along the line, the government discovered the Marlom was not delivering, so the contract was terminated. Only this year a new contractor has been engaged _Nostro Nigerian Limited and Nostro has resumed at that site and has over 600 meters of road already asphalted. The drainage structures have been completed and we are expecting that before two months another 600 meters length of road would have been asphalted. That’s the fifth site. Apart from basic constructions, in most of these sites we go to, we have been able to impact positively on the lives of the community residents. For instance, climate change is a major component of our project and in trying to build resilience to issues of climate change, the project contracted and energy efficient stoves were developed that runs on biogas and these stoves have been distributed freely to residents of Umuezukwu Nsulu, Amuzukwu lbeku and Amuda/Achara communities. Not onlythat, to make sure that life is made easier for the people and residents ofthese communities, we aggregated people into what we call Community Interest Groups, or what you’d call Cooperative societies. Along the line of the skills that these people are interested in are hairdressing, computer, carpentry, piggery, Cassava farming, fishery and poultry and ABIATODAYJANUARY 2020 Cassava processing. In these three pilot communities, we have over fifty eight community interest groups that are busy carrying out various livelihood activities with grants provided by this project. They are not loans and these people do not have to pay back. Their projects are standing. Intact, in Amuda Achara, there is an entire farm village. The community donated land to them and in that complex they have the Cassava farms, polutries, piggeries and all the fishes and other activities they are carrying out. ln Umuezukwu and Nsulu, these activities are dotting the ground. People who hitherto did not have any means of livelihood are now gainfully employed, because our Governor brought this project around. Abia Today? What is the next step torthis Project? EIO: We’ll say that are next step is to improve on what we are because we are in a rat race. Not with anybody, but with ourselves. We want to improve on our today. As we talk to you, the design for Ogudu Asa and lsiukwuato Uturu gully erosion sites have been cleared and we are expecting to advertise and to engage contractors for that site. The designs for the gullies arond Methodist Church, Uzuakoli and the entire network or gullies have also been cleared and we are also expecting to advertise and to engage contractors forthese sites. There’s also a site at Eluamuke Ohafia, which is very big, that @ SPECIAL FEATURE ravaged that community. We can also authoritatively say that the design has been cleared by the World Bank and we are in the process of doing Socio-economic studies, that will lead on to advertising for a contractor The new site at Nkwoagu lsuochi, just before the local government, our consultant is very busy preparing a design forthat site, as well as other sites in Abia. Apart from these ones that are ongoing designs, it might also interest you to know that we have gotten approval for our design for Emergency Flood Remediation activities in Aba metropolis. That would involve taking Stormwater off from Umuagbai in Obioha road Owerri-Aba and also Urata by Port Harcourt road, through underground tunnels along Ngwa road and take them to Aba river or whatis popularly called Waterside. When this phase is fullytaken, we’ll also go back to Aba to take care of the lfeobara pond and the Ndiegoro flood disaster area. Actually, these two sites, their designs have been cleared and we are only waiting for a matter of time to begin our phase one before we go over to that as phase two. Those two jobs in Aba are transformational and life changing. They’ll turn around the economy of Aba and Abia State and they’ll help to restore Aba on the Map as the life wire and the Economic Hub ofthe South East. These are verifiable. We can take people to these sites to go and see forthemselves. Abia Today: What are the challenges facing abia NEWMAP ? EIO: The biggest challenge is expectations from different communities. Because the project is working, everybody wants NEWMAP to come to their communities. As l am talking to you, we have over fifth requests as SOS on my desk, calling for us to come. We cannot respond to all of them at the same time. We beg for their understanding. We want to make sure they are prioritised. We want to look at the livelihoods involved. We want to look at the population of the affected people involved. We wantto look at the Social capital of the State. We want to look at the economic advantage to the State and in the long run, when the authorizing environments eventually prioritizes these sites, we now go through the process of our consultants preparing world class acceptable designs. Our designs go through a quality control firm in Abuja and then they are eventually sent to the World Bank office in Washington. When they come back cleared, then we do our socioeconomic studies and that will lead us into the procurement processes of engaging consultants. So, we have this problem of people expecting that when the call us today, the next day the equipment should roll out in their communities which is not so. We take ourtime to have good designs and to make sure it is the priority of the government as per the time in question. But by and large, we tell our people that we are coming. When God visits your @ ABIATODAYJANUARY 2020 neighbor, it means He is in the neighborhood and would soon visit you.The second challenge that we have is a government that is in a hurry. lf there’s a way the Governor will flog us with a cuggle to make things faster, he will do it. We are really doing our bestto make sure that we match the speed of the Governor The Governor has been personally visiting Work Bank, providing counterpart funds and urging us on to help him deliver on his promisesto our people. Abia Today: In summary, how would you describe your work ? EIO: Our work in Abia is transformational. When you join it with what other donor agencies are bringing to the table in Abia State, it’s only a matter of time before Abians begin to change their language and appreciate the ingenuity of Governorvictor Okezie lkpeazu.. Let me add that most of the decadence that this Government inherited, did not happen overnight. Roads are usually designed with a lifespan of 20-30 years. When you see roads that are bad now, they have served their lifespan and the administration inherits them and is saddled with a responsibility to rehabilitate them and l can honestly say that we should give the Governortime. He is atwork. Abia Today : What’s your message to abians. You ain’t seen nothing yet. We are coming with more work. let us keep faith with the Governor and all will be

Get real time updates directly on you device, subscribe now.

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.