The World Bank-assisted Nigeria Erosion and Watershed Management Project (NEWMAP) on Wednesday said it has concluded plans to tackle the gully erosion site in Iguosa community, a suburb of Benin in Ovia North East Local Government Area of Edo.
At least 50 houses and other properties have been destroyed in the past four years in the erosion-ravaged Iguosa community in a gully that is described as 60-feet deep, 200-feet wide, and 500-feet long.
The Iguosa Flood and Gully Erosion Remediation work is one of the 12 sites where construction work is on-going by NEWMAP in Edo.
The interventionist agency had successfully delivered the gully projects in Oshiobugie-Auchi in Etsako West and Queen Ede and Ekehuan, both in Benin City, the Edo State capital.
Alex Oleije, Edo Commissioner for Environment and Sustainability said during the presentation of cheques to the Project Affected Persons (PAP) in the community that the contract has been awarded for the project.
Mr Oleije explained that the process was preparatory to the commencement of civil works at the Iguosa gully site.
He said the payment, which was carried out under the auspices of the World Bank, complied with the institution’s guidelines and global best practices.
“Part of the guideline requires that persons whose properties are on the right of way and would be affected by the construction work should be compensated before the commencement of civil works,” Mr Oleije said.
Shortly before the presentation of the cheques to the beneficiaries, Mr Oleije explained that the project was informed by the commitment of the state governor, Godwin Obaseki, to alleviate the sufferings of the people.
He said residents of the Iguosa community have been facing untold hardship on account of the gully devastation.
Mr Oleije, who is also the Chairman of the State Steering Committee of NEWMAP, charged the community to continue to support the efforts of the state government as a way of encouraging him to do more for the people of Iguosa as well as the entire state.
He stressed that Mr Obaseki is well-positioned to accelerate the tempo of development in the state through investment in infrastructure.
The commissioner commended the residents of the community and the PAPs for their patience and cooperation with NEWMAP and enjoined the beneficiaries to utilise the funds judiciously for their households.
PREMIUM TIMES learnt that the state has so far spent over N2 billion for payment of compensation to PAPs in NEWMAP sites across the state
Lucky Wasa, Chairman of the State Technical Committee of NEWMAP, described the Iguosa gully project as a reality and called on members of the community to cooperate with the contractors for speedy completion of the job.
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Similarly, Tom Obaseki, the state Project Coordinator of NEWMAP, disclosed that the presentation of cheques to the PAPs is “the last activity before the bulldozers would move into the community to commence construction work.”
Mr Obaseki explained that the project is of great concern to the Governor, who had to make a special case to the World Bank for the emergency work which would dovetail into the permanent construction work.
John Nwangene, who spoke on behalf of the community and the PAPs, expressed gratitude to the governor for saving lives and properties in the community.
Mr Nwagene explained that the residents of Iguosa Housing Estate, who are mainly retired public servants, would remain grateful to the governor for the actualisation of the project which has “gone beyond everybody’s comprehension.”