By Ijendu Iheaka
Abia government has announced collaborative plans with the World Bank to check the flood ravaging Aba, the commercial centre of the state.
Abia State Coordinator, Nigerian Erosion and Watershed Management Project (NEWMAP), Mr Izuchukwu Onwughara made this known in Aba while speaking with News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Monday.
Onwughara said that the World Bank had mapped out some of the flooding sites that posed the highest danger to the city to tackle.
He said Obohia roads such as Uratta axis, Ngwa road and some parts of Port Harcourt road would be tackled in the first phase, while Omuma road and Ohanku road would feature in the second phase.
Onwughara said the projects would be substantially funded by the World Bank with Abia government providing counterpart funding to partner in the project to manage flooding in Aba.
The coordinator, who said the project whose duration “is 30 months, will commence by October’’.
“We are at very last leg of the preparation of the project in 2019, a lot of consultants came in to do some socioeconomic studies, we did the environmental and social management, we did the resettlement action plan for a project of such magnitude.
“The entire soil investigation has been done; we prepared a design that is of world class standard deploying best practices globally.
“The designs have gone through layers of approval from here to Washington and came out cleared.
“The job is too big so we’ve split it into two units; we will start with Uratta and Umuagbai and this will cover sections of Port Harcourt, Obohia roads and it will be taken down to Ngwa road.
“The advert has been done to pick contractors that will do this project, the valuation of the bids has been concluded and the reports have been forwarded to the World Bank.
“This month, September, we are awaiting their “no objection” response to the report to show it is okay.
“We are using this period to sensitise our people to prepare and get ready for the project.
“Everyone along the corridors of this project have been consulted and we call on everyone to cooperate with us on this,” he said.
Onwughara said that by October the contract for the project would awarded to ensure it took off accordingly.
He called on the residents of Aba to see the project as their own and to give the project handlers their maximum cooperation to ensure its realisation.
He said the project was devoid of political interferences because the World Bank was investing heavily in it and would want not to see its funds “go down the drain’’.
He said the World Bank worked with the procurement team to ensure global best practices were adopted to make the project successful.
He stressed that every step of the project passed through the bank’s approval which resulted in an acceptable bid document after a rigorous process.
“Let me give you some of the contents; for instance, we want a cash flow of up to N3.6 billion for any contractor that will be able to bid for this project.
“We want an annual turnover of eight million dollars for the past five years for any contractor that will bid for the project.
“We want evidence of two similar projects in the past five years executed by such a contractor.
“That advert was on for three months, but only 14 contractors were able to return our bid; about 26 contractors picked our forms and the criteria separated the boys from the men.
“At the day of returning of the bid, we found out that even three were deficient because you have to provide a bid security of seven million naira and people who don’t want to take that risk didn’t come,” he said.
He said the project was being assisted by the Nigeria Society of Engineers and procurement consultants from outside Abia did a thorough evaluation of the bid.
He said that the bid evaluation report had been the World Bank, adding that the bank was not taking the project lightly and could not allow it to be infiltrated by politicians.(NAN)