New Telegraph

Enugu: Mbah Turns Enugu Into Project Haven

Background

Enugu State recently witnessed inauguration of plethora of urban projects aimed at boosting the city’s infrastructure status. The Governor, Dr. Peter Mbah, as part of activities of his one year anniversary in office, embarked on the commissioning of 71 urban road projects, being the first phase of contracts awarded for the construction and reconstruction of roads in the state capital.

These are intra-city linkage roads and street roads that cut across all the nooks and crannies of Enugu urban and the adjoining satellite towns like Abakpa and Emene. The governor also announced a second phase comprising 80 roads, adding that government would, in addition to other major rural roads, also construct a minimum of 10km of road in each electoral ward to ensure that the rural areas were not left out.

Enugu State has 260 electoral wards. He said government had a policy to ensure that all Trunk A and Trunk B roads in the urban and rural areas were paved. At Mount Street/Umuchu Road junction, Idaw River, the governor performed a symbolic commissioning of Idaw River, Uwani, and Coal Camp Zones, as the people of Idaw River celebrated the first road intervention projects in the area in the past 52 years.

List of commissioned roads

The roads commissioned were Broderick Street, Silver Smith Street, Asata Mine Road, Ogbete – Jamboree – Ajogwu Road, all at Coal Camp, as well as Emeka Ebila, Idaw River Secondary School Road, Umuchu Street, Omachiani Street, Iloh Franco Street, St. Charles Street, Umu Ohachie Street, and Ozoude Street, as well as Meniru Street, and Mount Street Bypass, all in Idaw River.

Recall that the governor had in October 20, 2023 flagged off the construction of New Enugu City roads made up of 17km dual carriageway and feeder roads, 40km Owo-Ubahu-Amankanu-Neke-Ikem dual carriageway, and the construction/ reconstruction of 71 urban roads in Enugu capital city.

The state government was therefore excited that less than one year after the flag-off of some of these projects, they were already due for inauguration. “We are also providing the highest quality of roads. We are all making sure that the roads are well paved.

You are not going to have open drainage so that you will have pedestrian parts well paved, you will have streetlights, and roads that will last us a long time,” he stated. Similarly during the flag-off of the New Enugu City roads project, which sits on a 10,000 hectares of land, off Enugu-Abakaliki Road and traverses Enugu East, Enugu North, Enugu South, and Nkanu West LGAs, Mbah had last year reiterated his administration’s determination to restore Enugu to its number one position in Nigeria and beyond.

He said the project being handled by China Communication Construction Company, CCCC, would compete with any great city in the world, stressing that, “we will have a functional New Enugu City between now and the next 24 months.” Mbah also disclosed that the first phase of the project would cover 26 square kilometres comprising the Happy Island, the Vitality Bay, and the Innovation Park in line with the purposes the New City is to serve.

More pledges

Also flagging off the construction of the 40km Owo-Ubahu-Amankanu- Neke-Ikem dual carriageway, the governor said the new government was bent on constructing at least 10,000 km of roads in the next eight years to open the space for investors and make life better for Enugu people.

This is as the governor said: “This 40km dual carriageway road is going to be a major gateway to the North Central and it is going to open up our rural areas.”

Building a prosperous economy Mbah took the oath of office as the fifth Governor of Enugu State on May 29, 2023. During his inauguration he declared his administration’s resolve to grow the state’s economy from $4.4 billion to $30 billion, making it the preferred destination for businesses, investments, tourism, and living.

The administration’s desire to grow the state’s economy, is therefore leading to massive infrastructural development as one of the key enablers of investment inflow that will change Enugu’s narrative from a public service state to a private sector-driven economy, according to government officials. The governor had set a 10,000km of road target for himself. It is in keeping with this that the governor flagged-off the construction and reconstruction of the road projects in October.

During the flag-off events last year, Mbah told the crowd that his administration intends to spend about N3.3 trillion on massive infrastructure development and other projects in the state in the first four years, saying that he had often been asked questions regarding where and how exactly he intends to get the money.

“We are not depending on the Federation Account. It is impossible because what is available for us to spend from the account on FAAC is about two hundred billion within the same period, which is less than 10% per cent of our projected spending in the next four years,” he said.

Mbah noted that his administration had drawn up plans to disrupt the status quo by creating alternative financing models that would generate the funds needed to execute these projects. “We have financial institutions, who believe in our model and are willing to give us money for investment. We have also grown the internal revenue by over 200 per cent in this short period and the target is to move that to over 500 per cent before November. “We also did commit to making sure that we block all leakages and all the loopholes we have in our revenue so that we will be able to mobilise these funds for the benefit of the people.”

Commendations

Many residents are enthused by the new impetus being given to urban roads by the state government. They said that roads construction, reconstruction, and maintenance are the new normal in Enugu State today. A resident, Evangelist Hilary Ayichi, who resides in Idaw River, captured the developments with regard to ongoing road projects.

“The work in this place is progressively and massively going on. God has remembered us through Dr. Peter Mbah. Of a truth, nobody has ever remembered this particular area for the last 48 years, except during campaign period.

“That is why we appreciate you. Our prayer is that God will preserve you and keep your government; that he will continue to give you wisdom, understanding, and all the grace needed to make sure that your regime will be the best because nobody has ever remembered this place even for the past 24 years that democracy returned.”

At the Premier Layout, the council chairmen of Enugu North and South, Emeka Onunze and Robinson Nkwuo, respectively, expressed appreciation to Mbah for putting smiles on their faces, noting that the efforts to rebuild Enugu infrastructure would trigger economic revival in Enugu urban and beyond. On his part, a leader in Umunevo Nike, one of the benefiting communities, Emeka Edeh, said that residents of the community would cooperate with the contractors to execute the projects according to specifications.

Reacting to the construction of the New Enugu City, Council Chairman of Enugu East, Livinus Anike said: “We thought we were dreaming when we heard of the planned construction of a new city to decongest Enugu city and give us a feel of great cities like Dubai. But today, our joy is greatest because it has become a reality with this flag-off.” At Owo, council chairmen of Isi Uzo and Nkanu East local governments, Obiora Obegu and Sydney Edeh, respectively, said they were particularly excited because the areas had suffered years of neglect from both the state and federal government.

While commending the governor for his commitment to developing the state, residents are also calling for strict supervision of these projects in order to maintenance high quality and deliver on time as projected. A resident of Trans-Ekulu in Enugu, Mr. Okechukwu Edward, wondered why the width of the Trans-Ekulu to GRA Road was narrowed instead of being expanded.

Water project

Aside from roads, however, Mbah, had in November last year commissioned a 70 million litre per day water project in Enugu, saying his administration had raised potable water production capacity from the occasional two million litres per day to 120 million litres per day.

Mbah said the project known as the 9th Mile 24/7 Water Scheme was in fulfillment of his campaign promise to restore water to Enugu city in 180 days from the date of his inauguration. The governor further explained that the 4.4mw gas-powered plant built by his administration to supply power at the scheme would ensure uninterrupted water supply to Enugu residents.

Regretting the dire water challenges faced by Enugu residents before now, he said availability of potable water was consequential to his administration’s vision to raise the state’s economy from $.4.4 billion to $30 billion GDP between four and eight years.

“It was clear to us, that the status of water supply at the time was deplorable. At that time, there had been no reliable water supply in most parts of Enugu State for almost 20 years. According to him: “One need not be a rocket scientist to discern that few investors will be attracted to the state under such dire circumstances, nor can existing businesses expand to generate additional jobs and economic growth.

“If anything, these conditions are suffocating businesses and households and leading to unnecessary suffering across the State. “Faced with this fundamental is- sue, and considering the suffering of Ndi Enugu, it was only natural that we identified provision of water as one of our first targets in the drive to execute our mandate and social contract with citizens of Enugu.

“We also chose to give ourselves a target of resolving this challenge in 180 days not for the purpose of chest-thumping but rather because first, the issue is urgent.” Mbah recalled that the promise to provide potable water within the timeline of 180 days, ‘‘triggered disbelief in most quarters and that is perhaps understandable, realising the countless successive, but fruitless attempts to address the problem.

“Happily, for us all, here we are, 180 days from that promise, commissioning this new ultra-modern water scheme with a capacity to deliver to businesses and families in Enugu 70 million litres of potable water daily and this is but the first phase. “In a few weeks, we will also be commissioning new pumps in Oji water scheme to enable us to deliver another 50 million litres of water every day.

This will give us a total daily delivery of 120 million litres in Enugu, about twice the daily demand of Enugu urban. “We are currently supplying water at appreciable pressures to Enugu municipality and I can state here and now that pipe-borne water is here to stay.

Challenges

The state governor acknowledged some challenges in the reticulation of the water to every part of the city. He blamed the challenge on instances of burst pipes around the metropolis due to the age of a number of pipe lines.

Noting: “However, these constitute but teething problems which we will surely surmount in a matter of weeks and constant water 365 days of the year will once again be a reality in Enugu.”

Mbah equally assured that effort would be intensified to extend pipe-borne water to a number of major residential areas, which developed since the last major pipe-laying projects in Enugu.

“In addition, the towns outside Enugu also have varied degrees of water problems. Now that we can see the end of the water issues around Enugu urban, we must now refocus to address towns like Nsukka, Oji, Udi and others,” he said, urging the cooperation of the residents in the payment for services and protection of the facilities.

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