From Paul Osuyi, Asaba
The Nigeria Erosion and Watershed Management Project (NEWMAP) has assured residents in erosion prone areas of Delta State that all on going projects would be completed.
NEWMAP which is a World Bank assisted intervention project in the area of flood and erosion, is expected to wind up its activities in Nigeria before the end of this year.
Coordinator of the project in Delta State, Isaac Ufiofio however allayed fears of residents where erosion control projects are on going that the jobs would not be abandoned.
Ufiofio who said over 300 erosion and flood sites were identified in the state, added that five critical ones including Owanta, Obomkpa, Ukwu-Nzu, Ubulu-Uku and Jesse sites were approved for intervention.
According to him, the sites Owanta, Obomkpa and Ukwu-Nzu awarded to reputable contractors, adding that the job were almost completed.
Ufiofio said erosion sites at Ubulu-Uku and Jesse would be prioritized following ongoing negotiations for the extension of NEWMAP.
He thanked Governor Ifeanyi Okowa for funding Delta NEWMAP with a start-up fund of N30 million, and subsequently counterpart funds of N750 million since 2015.
The Project Coordinator further hinted that the process for the domestication of NEWMAP had reached appreciable level, with the proposed bill being developed for onward passage to the State House of Assembly.
‘”My prayer is that the project (NEWMAP) will be extended, and even if it is by 12 months, we will deliver (Ubulu-Uku and Jesse). We are on track and we will be able to deliver as and when due.
‘”While the project was delayed in 2015 was because of issues surrounding counterpart funding.
“But the governor gave us counterpart funds of N500 million even before he commenced any project in the State.
“Even when the World Bank had not yet approved Delta State, the funds were available and so compensation was not an issue in Delta State as far as NEWMAP is concerned.
‘”The first tranche of the N500 million was almost getting exhausted last year (2020) and he (Okowa) equally obliged us with another tranche of N250 million which we are currently using,” Ufiofio said.