Paul Osuyi, Asaba
Three Ijaw communities in Burutu Local Government Area of Delta State protested Thursday against the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) over a construction project.
The communities, which include Toru-Tubegbe, Bolou-Tubegbe and Tamo-Tubegbe, alleged that the ongoing road project in the area being executed by the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) does not include bridges which will link them to other communities.
In an early morning protest by men, youths and women on Thursday, the communities accused the contracting firm of attempting to cut down cost and make more profits by allegedly removing the bridges from the contract.
Brandishing placards of various inscriptions such as ‘NDDC tell Setraco to give us our bridge,’ ‘NDDC we have lost many people at the culvert,’ ‘Setraco we want our bridges,’ among others, the protesters said the spot the culvert was constructed is a direct access road for the affected communities to take their fish to the neighbouring towns to sell, warning that they will resist every plan by NDDC and its contractor to deny them the major link road to other communities.
Some of the communities’ leaders, Benson Zenebor and Lucky Kurogha, claimed that the construction road by NDDC contractor Setraco Construction Company had provided three spots for bridges, saying that they may be denying them because they want to reduce expenses and make more profits.
They complained that they have on several occasions met with one NDDC officials to register their grievances on the attitude of the contracting firm towards the construction of the bridges, but that they had gotten no positive response.
Kurogha said the communities affected will not relent in their protest until NDDC comes to their aid, saying that the fishing communities cannot be isolated.
Another community leader, Clement Atoukudu, who decried the attitude of the contractor, said the most worrisome aspect was how the company excavated their land for sand-filling when such sand could come from outside the community or the company’s site.
Atoukudu said: “On this same issue, the Catholic Bishop, His Lordship, Dr Hycent Ogbebor, led us to visit NDDC office, Port-Harcourt, where both NDDC, Setraco and the communities met and resolved that the position of the culvert be sand-filled and Setraco should construct the bridge.
Women leaders Mrs Yimjuo-Ere Jackson, Mrs Boulou Tubegbe and Felicia Nanalareri, who expressed their displeasure, said what they demand is a bridge not a culvert, and that they have lost several persons to floods.
Director of Project on the board of the NDDC, Samuel Adjogbe, urged the communities to remain calm, saying that there was no reason for the protest.
Adjogbe said the Commission had already directed Setraco to come up with a sample of the bridge for approval, reassuring the protesters that the culvert was merely a temporary measure.