By; PATRICK TITUS, Uyo
Akwa Ibom State Government’ has said that it would spend two billion Naira in payment of compensation to land and crop owners along the right of way for the IBB Avenue flood control drainage project in Uyo.
This is even as work has progressed on the N14bn World Bank assisted project meant to control flooding in an area reputed to be the lowest point and the epicentre of flooding which has constituted a manace to residents of the Akwa Ibom State capital.
Commissioner for Environment Mr Charles Udoh who made this known to Correspondents yesterday in Uyo said that 499 persons benefitted from the first leg of the payment while the next phase of payment would commence next week.
The 8.4km drainage project he said is expected to be completed before the rains even as escavation and casting have been completed in some places while it is expected that enough would have been done to enable the drains carry flood water before the rains start.
The drainage project according to him 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 and the state government providing the balance of Two Billion Naira used for the payment of compensation.
When completed he said it 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 flood waters 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 perimetre 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 a new technology is been deployed to ensure that the drainage would not hamper the continous existence or damage its outfall, a stream in Ibesikpo Asutan local council which already accommodates two other major drainage outfall 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.
The commissioner stated that the ministry has also streamlined the activities of miners and sand dredgers in the state to reduce the negative impact of their business on the environment.
Three persons he said have already been arrested for flouting dredging regulations and threatening human lives by dredging around pillars of some major bridges and high tension poles belonging to the Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company in the State.
He called on indegenes to report any dredging and mining activity especially in the rural areas that could constitute a threat to the environment and human lives.