Governor Dave Nweze Umahi of Ebonyi State recounts the situation of his people before the creation of the state in 1996, achievements and the present challenges in provision of electricity by the Enugu Electricity Distribution Company, EEDC, lack of water, poor quality education. He also speaks on measures put in place to reposition the state through industrialization and stepping up the state’s IGR. He spoke with Correspondent FELIX UKA
Your predecessor went into too many projects and ended up not being able to finish a good number of them. How are we sure you will not face the same situation?
We intended to construct three flyovers; one at Vanco Junction, one at the Akanu-Ibiam Junction and the other at the Presco Junction. But we will step down that of the Vanco Junction because of lack of funds. We have started that of the Akanu-Ibiam Junction and Presco Junction. We have also advertised that of the International Market. Without a flyover at the International Market, it will be difficult to use that market. We are also trying to decongest the side of it which is the park because not all the vehicles will enter inside the market. The target is twelve months and we will achieve that. When we start any project, we may not have 100% of the funds but we have 100% ideas of how to achieve them. No project that was started by us will exceed one day in terms of its time of completion.
The busy Afikpo/Abakaliki Road has for long been in very deplorable condition. Is there any hope for reconstruction of the road?
Within the month of June and by the Grace of God, I was the first governor to meet with Mr. President where I presented five roads and made a demand to allow us do these roads, and the federal government will refund us, but because of schedule, it took time for him to send the letter to the Ministry of Works and Transport but unfortunately, I discovered that Works and Transport advised against allowing us to do the roads as requested.
The decision came because all over the nation, the federal government owes states the total of N526b, so it has to pay the states before asking them to do another one, and what Ebonyi is being owed is N10b. Based on that, we didn't know what to do but to
advertise the federal road projects and made it known that the projects any contractor handling the job will have to give us time to complete the payments later, after such projects have been completed. So what we did was to advertise for a section of Nkalagu Road.
And we are also making efforts to conclude immediately so that we can start the remaining. That's what we will do there. The second one is the state road; that is Hilltop-Agbaja road. We also inspected that. The other is Amasiri-Okposi Uburu road. I have not inspected it but it has been advertised and we are going to start work there. Then the third one is the section of the road that is so bad at Abaomege axis, along Abakaliki-Afikpo road.
I inspected that road and it's so terrible and we have advertised for that too. But I did a separate letter to Mr. President and I told him to allow us to do it because that is about 50 kilometers from Abakaliki to Amasiri. Now, they are awarding a section of the road to a company called UNICO from Abakaliki, and the other one was awarded to CCECC, we are left with 14.5 kilometers and that is the worst section of the road so we look at how to do it. Unfortunately, the section done by CCECC is already failing, about 20% has failed.
So we asked Mr. President to allow us to do the section and place toll gate to recover our money and also maintain the road. That letter has gone to Mr. President but we have advertised it, we cannot because these are federal roads allow our people to continue to suffer. We will put up a policy that anybody that is doing a project for us, if you do earthwork we are not paying for it. If you put stone base we are not paying for it, until you cover it with asphalt, that is when the work is done.