Worldwide, the construction of road infrastructure is considered as one of the fundamental indices of economic growth. Harris Selod, senior economist, Developmental Research Group of the World Bank, in a report succinctly captures this critical impact when he stated thus: “roads are the arteries through which the economy pulses. By linking producers to markets, workers to jobs, students to schools, and the sick to hospitals, roads are vital to any developing agenda.” This is why the annual budget of the government of any developing economy gives considerable emphasis to road construction and maintenance. Mobility and accessibility are key factors that accelerate economic progress.
Created out of the old Rivers State 26 years ago on the 1st of October, 1996, Bayelsa State comprises a largely riverine estuarine topology. It is celebrated to be more riverine than Rivers State and more deltaic than Delta State. This implies that a large chunk of the landmass of the state is made of wetlands, swamps, streams, rivers, and creeks down to the Atlantic Ocean on the Gulf of Guinea. Therefore, majority of the communities are surrounded by water and could only be accessed through water transportation. The emphasis here is that this vast riverine and deltaic terrain has been one of the greatest excuses for the gross underdevelopment of the state by successive administrations, forgetting that parts of some developed countries such as the Netherlands, Italy, Florida, Texas, and Hawaii in the United States have a similar topology as Bayelsa State and still these countries consciously develop their infrastructures to the admiration of tourists which our leaders have make it as their nest of destination and enjoyment. We can point out the generational delay of the Nembe-Brass Road as a classic reference.
However, there is a paradigm shift in critical thinking to the misconceptions and blame on the terrain that has impeded our development efforts, especially on the construction of vital roads to link up far-flung coastal communities to accelerate economic development and make an effort on poverty reduction. Unarguably, the Bayelsa State Governor, His Excellency, Senator Douye Diri is taking a radical approach to the construction of road infrastructure aimed at providing the much-desired access to the hinterlands of the state to stimulate and explore the economic potentials of coastal communities.
The construction of legacy roads is one of the cardinal points in the Diri administration’s blueprint to fashion a more prosperous Bayelsa State. And the fore of this unique Prosperity Agenda are the three senatorial roads designed to open up local communities in the East, West, and Central senatorial districts that make up the State. These are the Nembe-Brass Road, the Sagbama-Ekeremor-Agge Road, and the Yenagoa Oporoma- Ukubie Road.
Historically conceive by the British at the twilight of the colonial era before Nigeria’s Independence, the Nembe-Brass Road has since been on the drawing board of successive administrations. It has finally received the Midas touch of Douye Diri. It takes a miraculous Diri to birth a dream that has lingered for over seven decades. The project is awarded to Sectraco Construction Company and the first phase comprises ten bridges and covers a distance of 21 kilometres. Flagged off by Babatunde Fashola, Honourable Minister of Works and Housing. The Nembe-Brass Road will open up Nigeria’s key economic assets and bridge the link to oil export terminal operated by Nigeria Agip Oil Company, the Brass Liquefied Natural Gas, and the Brass Fertilizer Petrochemical Company.
Posed to fulfill his campaign promise, Governor Diri summoned what seemed to be a monumental political will to tackle a project of enormous economic potential a former Governor has whimsically described as “economically not viable.”
Similarly, the Sagbama-Ekeremor-Agge Road started by the previous administrations is also in progress. Governor Diri has accelerated the tempo by demonstrating an unflinching commitment to the project. Currently, the road has been coal tarred almost to Aleibiri. Right now one could drive to Ekeremor town, the headquarters of the council area. This road will significantly impact on the economic activities and ease transportation difficulties in the area. Travelling to Ekeremor within Bayelsa will no longer be the stressful journey of making a detour through Bomadi and Burutu communities of Delta State. Conceived more than forty years ago this highway will terminate at Agge in the future where a deepsea port is expected to be located. The economic expectations of this road are simply mind-blowing. Governor Diri had promised to complete the first phase of the project, a 42 kilometres distance from Toru-Orua to Ekeremor town within his first tenure. The contract is also awarded to Sectraco Construction Company.
The Yenagoa-Oporoma Road is a sixty-year-old jinx Governor Diri is fervently determined to break. The road expected to terminate at Ukubie in Bassan Clan will provide access for over one hundred communities in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of the State. It is contracted to China Civil Engineering Construction Company. Although, this project was earlier awarded to Julius Berger, the company withdrew from executing it at the height of youth militancy and restiveness in the region. It is cleverly conceived to stimulate activities and improve the lot of coastal economies and drive the downstream sectors of Nigeria’s oil industry in relation to Southern Ijaw’s massive oil output. Southern Ijaw is the largest Local Government Area in the State and one of the largest in the country and is a host to all oil majors including Shell, Agip, and Chevron. Few months ago, Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osibanjo was in the State to flag off the Oporoma Bridge, a connecting bridge along the road to the heart of the Niger Delta.
Besides these, there are several other road projects either completed or at various stages of progress inherited and embarked upon by the Diri’s administration some of which are worth mentioning and include, the Igbedi Road.
· Truth Haven sent this from Yenagoa via email@example.com