From Joe Effiong, Uyo
N2 billion is to be paid by Akwa Ibom State Government as compensation to owners of landed property and economic trees to be destroyed along the right of way for the construction of Babangida Avenue flood control project in Uyo.
The World Bank assisted project is expected to gulp N14 billion and is projected to control flooding in an area reputed to be the lowest point and the epicentre of flooding which has constituted a menace to residents of the Uyo capital city.
The state Commissioner for Environment, Mr Charles Udoh, who disclosed this to newsmen in Uyo, said that 499 persons benefitted from the first leg of the payment while the next phase of payment would commence next week.
According to him, the 8.4km drainage should be completed before the rains set in, as excavation and casting have been completed in some places while it is expected that enough would have been done to enable the drains to carry flood water before the rains start.
He said the drainage project was awarded to China Roads and Bridges Corporation after an international bidding process in May last year with a 19 months completion period with the World Bank providing N12 billion the state government shoulders the N2 billion compensation.
When completed Udoh said the drainage would serve as the major link for many other flood control drains and would solve most of the perennial flood problems in Uyo and environs.
The commissioner explained that the drains which would be covered in built-up areas would cover a stretch of 8.4km and would be as deep as 10.10m in some places and as much as 8m wide carrying about 50,000 metres of water per second.
‘The project spans over a 8.4km stretch and is designed to carry floodwaters from IBB Avenue to Ibesikpo cutting across 17 communities excluding the four communities that host the construction yard. The 17 communities cut across Uyo, Nsit Ibom and Ibesikpo Asutan LGAs and the project is the biggest NEWMAP project in Nigeria today.
‘So, it’s like building a river and so because of the depth we are going to cover the drains in built-up areas to avoid casualties while the less built-up areas will have perimeter fences on both sides of the drain and a service road to ensure that people can patrol and conduct checks and service the drains when the need arises.
‘We are also aware that some natural sources of water would be destroyed by the project and so we are providing remediation measures by providing boreholes for such places and communities whose natural source of drinking water will be affected. We are also building bridges in communities that could be cut into two by the drains,’ he explained.
Udoh further said new technology has been deployed to ensure that the drainage would not hamper the continuous existence or damage its outfall, a stream in Ibesikpo Asutan local council which already accommodates two other major drainage outfalls from Uyo.
‘We are using a new drainage termination technology called Gebion and Reno Mattresses used to terminate drains before you get to where you plant specific grasses to allow natural sedimentation.
“We are going to have that so that before the water gets near it’s outfall the water will be at crawling speed so there won’t be any devastation. So beyond the Gebion and Reno Mattresses, we will have natural grasses planted and over a period will become a tourist centre like we already have at Dominic Utuks Avenue in Uyo,’ he said.