Ben Eguzozie, in Port Harcourt
- Project takes off 6 yrs late
- Expected to cater for 1.3m residents
The African Development Bank (AfDB) would be providing 100 percent funding of the Rivers’ Port Harcourt urban water scheme, which would involve the rehabilitation and upgrading of water supply for the Port Harcourt metropolis, made up of Port Harcourt City and Obio/Akpor local government areas.
According to details on the AfDB website, the project, which will upgrade 496 kilometres of water pipeline and produce 330,000 cubic meters of potable water per day, was initially developed in 2011 under former governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi administration at an estimated cost of $255.56 million (put then at N50 billion). Work was to have started in 2014 and run for a period of five years (that is 2019). But this was not to be following hurtful disagreements between the Amaechi administration and the federal government under former president Goodluck Jonathan. The project was therefore stalled.
The project, to be managed by the Port Harcourt Water Corporation (PHWC), will now flag-off on 1st October 2020, six years after it ought to have started and one year after it would have come on stream. Meanwhile, the loan closing date is April next year (2021).
It was then billed to cater for “1.3 million residents expected to live in the project area by 2019 who will benefit from improved water services and sanitary conditions,” the project design had stipulated.
Tamunosisi Gogo-Jaja, the commissioner for water resources and rural development, said the project would have four new devices reservoirs located at Rumuola, Diobu, Moscow Road and Borikiri in Port Harcourt and Obio/Akpor council areas. There would be eight elevated tanks with carrying capacity of about 1,000 to 1,500 cubic meters of water and about 17 boreholes in about six cluster areas connected to water treatment plants.
Penultimate week Governor Nyesom Wike moved to revive the pending project when he signed a construction contract with the project’s contractors. In addition, the project will create 1,200 direct jobs and 5,000 indirect jobs. He advised the contractors to ensure to do quality work, as the state government would not compromise the agreed standard.
The governor also requested the AfDB that will finance the project, to do so with 100 per cent cost net of taxes. He said the COVID-19 pandemic presented huge challenges, as the accruable revenues both to federal statutory allocation and internally generated revenue has dropped. He urged the commissioner of water resources and rural development, and the managing director of Port Harcourt Water Corporation to engage the AfDB with a view to get the bank to finance 100 per cent of the cost of the project net of taxes.
“I am aware that the loan closing date is April 2021. I am directing the commissioner (of water resources and rural development) and the managing director (of PHWC) to submit application to the federal ministry of finance and AfDB to extend the duration of the loan by two years, to enable full implementation of all components of the urban water sector reform,” Governor Wike said.
He also asked the commissioner and PHWC boss to further engage the AfDB with a view to restoring the waterworks at Trans-Amadi, Abuloma, Woji and Elelenwo regrettably cancelled by other development partners. Governor Wike assured that he would not hesitate to fully implement the PHWC restructuring and organisational build-out report when it is ready; pointing out that his administration had opened a new phase of commitment to repositioning water supply services across the state.
Ibibia Walter, managing director of PHWC signed on behalf of the Rivers government, while Chen Kangle signed for CGC Nigeria Limited, Yang Gengqi for Top International Engineering Corporation and Iskandar Taslakian signed for Mothercat Nigeria Limited.
Port Harcourt, Rivers State’s capital and key city has stopped having pipe-borne water for more than two decades. Most of the water reticulation systems have broken down or been destroyed during a series of construction in the state capital. But Governor Wike believes that through the incoming water project, thousands of residents would be reconnected to urban water supply. He said many Rivers people would be engaged directly and indirectly throughout the project’s life span.