The multimillion-naira Jesse-Boboroku Road in Ethiope West Local Government Area of Delta State, constructed by the Ifeanyi Okowa government, has collapsed barely one month after it was commissioned by the Governor of Bayelsa State, Mr. Seriake Dickson.
SaharaReporters learnt that the road project, which collapsed on Saturday due to the alleged use of substandard materials, was awarded to Gomene Construction Company, said to be owned by one-time Chairman of Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Mr. Godwin Omene.
When SaharaReporters visited the failed session of the project, leaves were left on the road as danger sign to the users.
Back in 2017, the multibillion-naira road commissioned in Asaba, the state capital, by Okowa collapsed after six months, sources attributing it to lack of competence of the construction companies. Okowa was said to have used the road contracts as 'Kola-nut' for political patronage to individuals who made financial contributions to his 2015 election.
During the inauguration of the multimillion-naira Jesse-Boboroku Road last month, Dickson had described Okowa as "prudent manager of resources", adding that Deltans were overwhelmed with the quality of projects being executed by Okowa.
"The people are overwhelmed with the quality of projects you have executed, we have seen the wonderful roads you (Okowa) have constructed. These are special projects that will touch the lives of the people," he had said, paying glowing tributes to Okowa.
When contacted for comments on issue, the state Commissioner for Works, Mr. James Augoye, denied the story and that he has just returned from the site, explaining that following the opening of a canal by the Ministry of Environment, a culvert that was constructed over 30 years ago was touched by the earth moving equipment, resulting in damage to the road.
"I have mobilised Levant to the site and work is commencing today. The State Government regrets the inconvenience to motorists by the collapsed culvert on the Jesse/Boboroku Road. I will like to put on record that it was not as a result of 'shoddy job' by the contractor as is being alleged by some commentators," he said.
Meanwhile, in another development, Portplus Limited, the contracting company handling the controversial N736.4-million Ikpide-Irri riverine community road project in Isoko South local Government Area of Delta State, on Monday arrested an indigene of the community, Mr. Endurance Ukpethu for agitating for a standard job.
There had been controversy and protests over the construction of the road with substandard materials. An indigene of the community, Mr. Immanuel Omoefe and his elder brother, President-General of the the community, Mr. Michael Omojefe connived with a former house of Assembly member representing Isoko South constituency 1 and political ally to the governor Mr. Ross Uredi, to influence the Isoko South council Divisional Police Officer (DPO), CSP Isah Hassan to arrest and detaine Ukpethu.
Speaking with an indigene of the community, Mr. Anthony Edoja, who visited Ukpethu at the police station, said the arrest and detention of the victim was as a result of the strong agitation for a standard road, adding that the DPO, after allegedly being compromised, began to act the script given him by the contractor and his cohorts, adding that contractor had vowed to use his police and other connections to deal with those still spearheading the agitations in the community.
Confiding in our correspondent, a police officer in the station, who asked not to be named, said that the arrest and detention of Ukpethu, which was orchestrated by the contractor's brother-in-law, Uredi, was to intimidate him into backing out of the agitation for a standard road.
"Our boss, the DPO was few days ago instructed by the contractor, his in-law, Mr. Ross Uredi and his elder brother, the community PG to arrest and detain the victim for several days and make them sign an undertaking to back out of the agitation. The contractor and his in-law are currently in London where they are giving orders to our boss. The PG confided in us at the station; even the directors from the works ministry have been taken care of hence all the agitation is falling on deaf ears.
The Divisional Police Officer (DPO), in charge of Isoko South Local Government Area, CSP Isah Hassan, however, declined to comment.