Residents of Ayetoro community in Ilaje Coastal area of Ondo State at the weekend protested against alleged poor execution and mismanagement of the shoreline project sited in the community by the Niger Delta Development Commission [NDDC].
The community, established in 1947 is inhabited solely by Apostles of IIaje extraction, who are noted for practicing ”Communism” in the recent past.
However, the coastal town, as a result of environmental effects of oil exploration, has lost considerable large portion of coastal land to frequent sea surge and erosion since early 1980s.
Several of its valuables were said to have been lost due to frequent ocean surge.
At a news conference in Akure, the state capital, the principal secretary of the community, Dele Kudehinbu, said due to persistent cry through the media on the environmental problems threatening to wipe out the community, the attention of both the Ondo state and Federal governments was drawn to the problems.
Consequently, he said, the NDDC awarded the contract for the protection of Ayetoro shoreline to Gallet Nigeria Limited at a cost of about N2.4b in 2004,with the payment of N650m as mobilization.
Mr. Kudehinbu said ”But surprisingly, the contract was terminated after four years on the grounds of non-performance and lack of technical know-how.
“In 2009,the new Board of NDDC cancelled the earlier contract and re-awarded it to Dredging Atlantic Nigeria Limited at a cost of about N6.5b out of which about N2.5b was paid to the new contractor as mobilization.
“It is disheartening to report that about four years after the new contract was awarded and the payment of that work on the project has meaningfully commenced, there was no sign that the job is being done”
According to him, the major raw material required for the successful execution of the project is sand which must be available in substantial quantity.
But,he said the company had paid over N100m to various groups in the communities within the vicinity in fruitless search for desirable quantity of sand.
Mr. Kudehinbu contended that there was no adequate planning and preparation for the project before it was contracted,saying it would be difficult for NDDC management to exonerate itself from the problem.
He recalled that when the NDDC Board re-awarded the contract to the present contractor in 2009,the leadership of the Community appointed a project monitoring committee [PMC] to interface between the community and NDDC/Contractor,but said the commission’s office in the state refused to cooperate with the committee.
Mr. Kudehinbu said some concerned citizens have predicted that the project is doomed to fail because of faulty design,while the contractor did not have technical capability to handle a high technology job of that magnitude.
The community urged the federal government particularly President Goodluck Jonathan to institute a probe panel to investigate the poor execution of the project,in order to end the trauma of Ayetoro residents.