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Published On: Tue, Aug 24th, 2021

N1.5bn Substandard Project: Protesting Isoko Youths Vow To ‘Send’ Contractor To Jail


LAGOS AUGUST 24TH (URHOBOTODAY)-Some youths of Ikpide-Irri, under the umbrella of ‘Concerned Indigenes Of Ikpide-Irri’ have protested against a firm, Portplus Limited, handling the community’s N1.5 billion road project.
Ikpide-Irri is a riverine community in the Isoko South Local Government Area of Delta State.

The youths have vowed to ‘send’ the contractor to jail for the execution of what they called ‘substandard’ work.
The protesters called on the contractor to, as a matter of urgency, execute the contract well or be ready to face anti-graft agencies.
Delta State Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa had in 2017, awarded a N736.4-million concrete pavement road contract in Ikpide-Irri community to a firm owned by one of his cronies, Portplus Limited.
The firm is a Lagos-based marine service company owned by Immanuel Emoefe, an indigene of the community.
But even after a series of protests against the alleged shoddy work on the road, the governor reviewed the contract upward to the tune of almost N2 billion for the contractor.

Following the series of past protests in the community, the immediate past community President General, Michael Omojefe, who is the elder brother of the contractor, had told our correspondent that the “contract was ‘kolanut’ from Governor Okowa to my younger brother and chairman of Portplus Limited, Immanuel Emoefe.
He said the contract was given to his brother because of his financial contribution to support Okowa in the 2015 governorship election.
“As such, nobody has the right to challenge my brother or protest against him in any way,” he had said.
The concerned indigenes of the community in 2018 in a petition signed by their counsel, C. F Ebu, and addressed to Okowa, condemned the substandard job being done by the contractor.
One of the leaders of the protesters who identified himself as Blessing Ese and chairman of Ikpide-Irri Progress Union, Ughelli branch, disclosed that despite several protests against the poor quality of the job being done by the contractor for the past three years, no meaningful changes have been seen.
Ese said, “The most painful aspect is that the contractor is an indigene of the community. For over three years we have been protesting against his shoddy job, he refused to change for the better. Following our protest, his governor friend, Okowa reviewed the contract upward to almost two billion naira yet he continued to use substandard materials for us. God bless the executive and members of the Isoko Monitoring Group, (IMG) for all the supports and for speaking against the shoddy project.
“We are therefore warning and calling on Portplus limited to as a matter of urgency and importance, execute the contract according to the state government specifications using the approved BEME and BOQ for the contract. Can you imagine, this kind of swampy terrain, the contractor used 10mm rods for the construction of culverts instead of the required 16mm rods according to the BOQ. I pity some hungry leaders in the community who have been bribed by the contractor to seal their lips.”
Some of the placards carried by the protesters have different inscriptions such as ‘Portplus Give Ikpide-Irri Standard Road’, ‘Ikpide-Irri People Say No To Substandard Construction’, ‘Governor Okowa Call Portplus To Order All We Are Saying Is Good Job’, ‘Ikpide-Irri Deserve Standard Road Not Cut And Nail’ ‘EFCC, ICPC, Other Anti-Graft Agencies Must Hear This, ‘Ikpide-Irri Road Contract Is Not Your Kola-nut But Our Right’ and ‘Portplus Do Good Job Or End In EFCC ICPC Cell’.
Meanwhile, a source in the Ministry of Works who confided in SaharaReporters disclosed that some senior staff members of the ministry, especially the engineers and directors directly involved in the monitoring of the job have been compromised hence the continuation of the shoddy job by the contractor.
When contacted at the time of filing this report, a representative of Portplus Limited and site surveyor, Iyke Chidindu, said, “Since the commencement of the contract, there has been a series of complaints and protests upon protests following internal issues among indigenes. They keep saying we are not doing the right thing and I don’t know the right thing they want us to do. I don’t want to talk more than this.”
Saharareporters

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