FOUNDATION FAILURES ARE DIFFICULT TO CORRECT

Dear Dr Ikpeazu,

I like to congratulate you on becoming a father-in-law yesterday. It is a good experience and I look forward to my own time when my sons will join Jamike to bring joy to us. Well done!

This past weekend was a tough one as my inbox was inundated with lots of messages from my friends, many of whom are neither Abians nor Igbos. Many of them sent me videos of mothers swimming through Ariaria River with some words of sympathy or mockery in some cases. It was and still indeed an eye sore and utterly shameful.

We are all aware of the mess you inherited when you took over office including the perennial flooding of Ariaria. It is well known that Abia suffered gross infrastructural neglect and unprecedented levels of financial abuse before you. While you have recovered a few roads at Aba, we cannot say that a lot has changed in the direction of fiscal responsibility.

One thing we must say however, is that you swung into action once you became governor and went ahead to reconstruct the 3.8km Faulks Road, Aba and added a catchment basin – IFEOBARA, which unfortunately has not lived to its expectation. We will not bother you today with the ridiculous cost of Faulks Road and Ifeobara; we will leave that part out for today.

There is no doubt that Ifeobara Basin has taken away some pressure from its neighbouring areas; however, it appears that the basin was not properly thought out. I will assume that Ifeobara is just a temporary basin which was designed to empty into Waterside River. If that was not the intent, it is then clear that the designers had a poor estimation of the potential volume of water that could be discharged into Ifeobara and may have underestimated the potential rainfall in Aba. They ended up designing and building a water retaining basin whose capacity is lower than the demand. This is a FOUNDATION FAILURE which is almost IMPOSSIBLE to correct as it has destroyed your legacy at Faulks Road.

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We can also not deny that the choice of Hartland as the contractor for the NEWMAP Ndiegoro Watershed Project is our one of the key issues that have affected the progress of the project. Ignoring competent and experienced contractors who have experience in similar projects (e.g., Julius Berger Plc), who bided for the job is one of the reasons why that project is suffering today. This is something we can not correct now, ANOTHER FOUNDATION FAILURE!

I also like to appreciate you for deciding to act on the shameful videos of Ariaria Market which are still circulating. As an Abian, I was so ashamed to see our traders subjected to the most inhuman conditions. I’m also aware that the World Bank Road, Umuocham Aba is in a similar condition with open Manholes in the middle of the road. If those manholes are not closed as soon as possible, we may be seeing casualties from drowning in due course.

Having said the above, I would like to quickly encourage you to review the proposed remodelling of Ariaria Market. According to the white man, ‘Once Beaten, Twice Shy’. We cannot afford to make the same mistake we made at Faulks Road, Ifeobara Basin and the NEWMAP project. Any knee-jerk approach as it appears now with appointing a newbie construction company may result to the failed projects we mentioned above.

While I do not have any issues with giving opportunities to indigenous companies especially new starters, I would like to emphasize that the scale of work involved in remodelling Ariaria requires some depth of experience in the construction industry, given the prevailing environmental conditions. While I believe that the chosen contractor may deliver on this very important project, I am of the strong opinion that an experienced consultancy should be appointed to support them to carry out in-depth analysis of the viability of this project. The environment of this project raises the same questions facing Ifeobara today – what do we do about the potential rainfall from the area? Any solution that does not solve the issue of flooding is actually setting oneself up for failure. You may be surprised that one of the solutions to this market may be outright relocation of the market to another area.

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Therefore, I will encourage you to carry out due diligence before engaging in an initiative that may become a wild goose chase in the long run and further tarnish your reputation.

I would have also thought that this project was an opportunity for you to improve the extremely poor standard of Abia in procurement transparency as the state currently ranks as the 2nd worst in contract/procurement transparency in the country. This would have been an opportunity to put this project to public tender and conduct a selection process based on competency, but it appears that improving Abia’s reputation is not a pressing need for you. Cronyism appears to be the major driving force in your decision making.

Lastly, several people on social media have expressed lack of faith in your ability to deliver this project. They see it as another worthless political statement to diffuse the palpable tension in the state and social media space. In my opinion, this is an opportunity for you to right such a poor perception of your person and government.

Remember, our approach may not be the best for you, but know that we want you to finish on a high.

We love you as our own!

I remain Eks Stephen!
Eks Stephen is Civil/Structural Engineer
Chartered Engineer, UK.

 

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