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NDDC steps up execution of projects, others


•Builds long-span bridge, boosts employment, moves against cholera

 THE Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) is constructing a new road bye-pass with a 150-metre bridge to provide an alternative route to Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital. 

  To be completed before the end of this year, the Akenfa-Gbaran Bridge has been inspected by the commission’s Managing Director, Sir Bassey Dan-Abia, accompanied by its Director of Project Monitoring, Robert Obuaha.

   Dan-Abia, observed that the project was very strategic as it was designed to connect communities that were hitherto inaccessible by road as well as provide an alternative gateway into Yenagoa. He charged the contractor handling the project to approach the job with all seriousness as the NDDC was bent on completing all on-going projects as directed by President Goodluck Jonathan.

  He said that it was not enough to just sit in the office to look at files and generally go through paper work. According to him, such an approach would not give a full picture of the current status of projects on the ground. “That is why I find it necessary to be inspecting projects on a regular basis. As for this project, I want to see it completed this year. The contractor just has to speed up work on the bridge before the rains intensify,” he said.

  Project Manager Werigbelegha Dimie assured the NDDC team that more efforts would be made to ensure that work progressed at the site at a faster pace. He said that 60 per cent of the contract had been completed, noting that the concrete beams for the bridge had been cast and would soon be launched.

  The inspection tour took the NDDC boss to the Ambassador Lawrence Akpebu rigid-pavement road in Akenfa, also in Yenagoa LGA. Obuaha confirmed that the road had been completed and was ready for commissioning.

 Also, to help check the recent outbreak of cholera in 14 communities in Andoni Local Council of Rivers State, the NDDC has donated drugs and other medical items for distribution to the health centres in the affected area.

  While presenting the items to officials of the Rivers State Ministry of Health at the Basic Health Centre in Ebukumka, Andoni Local Council, Ephriam Etete-Owoh, the state government representative on the Board of NDDC, said, the commission desired to save lives of the people hence, the urgent intervention.

  He added: ‘‘President Goodluck Jonathan was concerned about the loss of lives in Andoni communities and as directed that we take care of the sick people urgently.”

  Etete-Owoh, who represented Dan-Abia, promised that the commission would identify appropriate locations where water projects would be sited in the communities to ensure that potable water was provided for the rural dwellers in the affected communities.

  The Head of NDDC Health unit, Dr. George Uzonwanne, disclosed that the medical items were meant to cater for up to 1,000 patients.

  He said the items included 50 cartons of disinfectants, 2,000 gloves; 500 insecticide-treated nets; 5,000 doses of de-worming tablets; 40 bags of intravenous giving sets; 100 hand sanitizers; 250 cartons of dextrose, among others.

  And in continuation of its job-creation programmes, NDDC, has enlisted 350 youths, drawn from the nine states covered by the commission, in a new scheme designed to create successful entrepreneurs using the mobile phone technology platform. 

  The programme tagged NDDC Retail Empowerment App Programme (REAP), was launched in Port Harcourt at an event attended by many board members and directors of the commission.

  Bassey Dan-Abia, represented by the Executive Director, Projects, Tuoyo Omatsuli, said REAP was an effort to support the various empowerment programmes of the Federal Government flowing from the transformation agenda of President Jonathan.

  According to him, the NDDC would continue to establish different schemes for the training and empowerment of the youths of the Niger Delta to ensure that they were gainfully engaged in meaningful and economically beneficial ventures. He stated that the REAP programme was a pilot scheme which would be sustained to engage many more beneficiaries in future.  

  NDDC Director of Youth, Sports, Culture and Women Affairs, Prince W. Alazigha, said that youth constitute a very important segment of the society, noting, however, that they were vulnerable because of unemployment challenges. He said that the NDDC had since inception mounted various skill acquisition programmes to train the youth of the Niger Delta.

  George Turnah, the Special Adviser to the NDDC MD on Youth, Sports, Culture and Women Affairs, said that REAP was a collaboration between the NDDC and the private sector to create successful entrepreneurs using technology.

  “It is a unique empowerment programme designed for women, under-employed graduates, physically challenged and youths to become successful entrepreneurs while taking advantage of business opportunities in the telecommunication sector,” he said.

  He further said that women were given preference in the programme because they form the bedrock of families. He also noted that women were the strongest potential clients for financial institutions since they were said to have higher savings and loan repayment rates.

  The consultant for the programme, Mr. Tayo Adigun, said that Nigeria’s recharge card business generates over N3 billion daily but that it was being threatened by the emergence of mobile payments. He observed that the airtime retail business was experiencing a steady growth, although the platform may change significantly as the drive towards e-payment continued.

  The beneficiaries were later presented with starter packs which included a mobile phone loaded with N50,000 worth of VTU credit; phone accessories such as power banks and memory cards; electricity generator; a business table with chair and an umbrella as well as N8,000 free credit.

  One of the beneficiaries, Miss Queen Ekpo, a physically challenged young lady, said the starter packs given to them would enable them to earn a decent living. “I am happy that the NDDC has giving us the tools with which to fish and take care of ourselves and our families.”

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