Day Patrick Ferife Inspected Modern Schools, Ode-Itsekiri Road In Warri

By Austin Oyibode
LAST week, the new Commissioner for Delta State Special Infrastructure, Patrick Ferife, took a tour of some projects being constructed by the Directorate for Special Infrastructure. Although the projects were awarded before he was moved to the directorate, his inspection was not unconnected with the need to familiarize with the projects, know where they are and see their different stages of completion. In this regard, the team led by the Commissioner, visited four schools in Warri and the road which is being constructed to connect the riverine communities of Ode-Itsekiri to the city of Warri, the business hub of Delta State.
The schools visited include Dom Domingos College, Dore Numa and Uwangwue Colleges, all in the city of Warri. Among the three schools, Uwagwue College has been completed, waiting for commissioning, Dore Numa College, partially completed but with different designs to add beauty and colour to the system, but Dom Domingos is still in building, having reached about 65 percent completion. On ground at the Dom Domingos was the contractor of the building project, Engr. Anthony Quiltine, who told the commissioner that they were working at a fast pace to ensure they complete the project at the end of January, 2015. He said the project was awarded in April 2014. Workers were seen fixing windows, some plastering while others were busy fixing protectors at Domingos College.
All the colleges visited by the Commissioner were storey buildings with multiple classrooms in them. One thing common with some of the schools is that most of them are taking the shape of the Ultra-modern St Patrick College in Asaba, the Delta State capital. Looking at the schools, one can deduce that at the end of the project, they will end up being wonderful projects that would change the face of education in Delta State. The Commissioner also saw the popular Ogedegbe Primary School, the pupils of which won the Channels football Competition for the state in Lagos.
But the commissioner was not done with the tour for the day. He took his team to inspect the Ode-Itsekiri Road and bridges which was awarded to Setraco in 2006. Ferife’s team with Setraco’s officers took a long tour of the road from Warri down to the villages in the swampy and mangrove forests. Truly, it’s a long project, running through 19 kilometres into the creeks. All over the area, it was completely swampy and covered with water with no free space for land. But the construction firm had to reclaim the land from the water by sandfilling the entire stretch of water and constructing the road through the reclaimed land.
An ordinary individual who may not have been told of the job done by the company may never know the rigour passed through by Setraco to construct the road. The road which stretched across 19 kilometers has 19 bridges. This means in every kilometre, there is a bridge. The building of the bridges may not be unconnected with the need to completely fight off water from climbing the road and bringing to nothing the job already done by the construction firm. The area through which the road navigated is completely isolated as no building is in it. The area is so vast but completely covered with water. It was learned that the only means of movement in those places is canoe, flying boats and other machines that could only navigate through the body of water.
The Setraco management led by the Area Manager, Zeidan Ibeahim, led the Commissioner through the road to the villages, stopping intermittently to explain a point as the commissioner was on a first time visit having been transferred to the Special Infrastructure Directorate in about four weeks ago. This was so because the former commissioner in charge of the directorate, Orezi Esievo, had resigned to pursue an ambition to represent her constituency in the Delta State House of Assembly.
As the tour progressed, the Setraco Manager explained that the road had reached 65 percent completion. He said all the infrastructure and sandfilling had been completed. He said the firm was waiting for a further push from the government as it foresees handing over the road to the state government in the next six months. He said all the major technical challenges had been overcome as the firm had enjoyed good relationship with the youths of the area, saying “for the past three years, we’ve had no problem with the youths of the area”.
Also, Patrick Ferife expressed amazement over the project. He said before now, any time he visited the area, it was through speedboat but was extremely pleased that he could enter the villages of Ode-Itsekiri through road. “That is to tell you the quantum of work that has been done on the road. You can see that it is through difficult terrain and swampy area that has been filled to create space for the construction of the road”, Ferife said as he answered questions from journalists.
He added that “as we were coming, we were counting the bridges, now we have about 19 bridges across the road. The road is 19km, which means every kilometer has one bridge. That is to tell you the level of work being done by Setraco. I’m really impressed with the level of work here. We will continue to push because it’s a project that must be completed. We will ensure that the contractors are backed up so that they can complete the job, because I see that they are focused and doing a good work. It pleases me a lot to be able to drive to this area through road”.
On the schools visited in Warri, the Commissioner also expressed delight at the pace of work. He said “I’m really delighted with the extent of work at the site as you can see. You will recall that this contract was awarded about April May this year. From my own assessment, about 55 percent of the job is done. I think it’s a good thing and I must commend the contractor because this is one school we need to complete very fast and bring our children in to start learning.”
“The difference between the old and new structure is so much psychologically. That is education. Education is not just coming to class room to learn, it also involves your environment. The environment is also very important. A child that does not normally tuck in his dress in the old structure, when he comes to the new one, you will see him clean and that is the effect of psychology in education. So, I must commend the contractor and encourage him to keep pushing so that this job is concluded in record time”. He told journalists that 50 schools were initially awarded to be made model schools in the state. According to him, those ones have been completed, saying only one or two of that category are left to be completed. But right now, he said the directorate has been given a mandate to drive the development of 30 new schools across the state. He said though the time is short, his directorate would try as much as possible to complete the projects before Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan’s administration expires.
“The contract for all the schools has been awarded. So, we are going to drive the contractors, as much as possible we are going to push them to go to site and complete the project”, he said. Hence, he warned all contractors handling the directorate’s award letter and contract papers to go to site “because when we visit and discover you are not there, there is the possibility of revoking our contract. We will do that because we want to finish strong. You cannot play with education. We need these new schools so that we can boost our education standard in the state, finish strong and land well”.