MONO-RAIL: FEARS AND HOPES OF RIVERS PEOPLE

In every generation there are things that happen that make people talk good or bad. Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi in his first tenure embarked on so many life transforming projects inRiversState. Rivers people and Nigerians at large applauded the Governor for the people oriented-projects in the state.

In deed, the railway system is not viable or not working in Nigeria for now, despite the billions of naira spent to resuscitate the ailing system and transportation which aids movement of people and goods and services became a problem. It was on this premise that Rivers State Government under the leadership of Rt. Hon. Amaechi thought it wise to diversify means to ameliorate the suffering faced by Rivers people in the area of transport. The monorail project cane as result of government trying to ease movement of goods and services inRiversState.

In some quarters, the project is seen as an elephant project that would serve as waste pipe for the hard earned money of Rivers people, it is also seen as a joke to entertain or deceive Rivers people that government is working. From what used to happen to such lofty projects in the country, people see it as one of the projects that would be abandoned by the government. It is also believed that since there is no legislation guaranteeing continuity of projects by successive administration in Rivers State and Nigeria, that the project which has engulfed reasonable billions of naira will be abandoned thereby causing waste of resources. Rivers people are afraid because Gov. Amaechi might not complete the project in his tenure. This is another avenue to waste the resources ofRiversState, miserably by the administration in this era, the people suspect.

The monorail according to original design would have Oyigbo as the last destination. And presently, eleven billion naira has been spent already based on the first phase agreement. Many buildings await demolition for monorail to be a reality. And another question people ask is, “is the government sincere in completing this project?” Only time will tell. One major fear of Rivers people is the slow pace of the project. For now, the project is taking place within a distance of one and half miles, from station roundabout to UTC Junction axis. It is obvious, that Rivers people are in great fear because of huge presence of abandoned projects all over the state by the previous administrations. Rivers people are agitated when they see the huge financial involvement. One major problem is that this project is being carried out in phases. This is another threat to abandonment. Because, recently, the state commissioner of transport told the public that about 11 billion naira has been spent on the project. Some huge amount of money has been spent on major projects that were abandoned till date. For instance, the Igbo Etche Housing Estate, 100 Low Cost Housing each in the 23 LGA of Rivers State etc abandoned by previous administrations in Rivers State.

Indeed, monorail project, if government is honest in completing it, would go a long way in alleviating the difficulties faced by Rivers people. In Port Harcourtmetropolis, for now the present administration cannot be linked to any abandoned projects. But Rivers people believe that if monorail is completed, it will change the landscape of Port Harcourtand its environs and boost economic activities. The monorail if completed will serve as tourist attraction. The project is not what government and people should toy with. The Ivory Tower in Francewas seen as an elephant project, but as the project was completed, today it serves as tourist centre in France. What about the ThamesRiverBridgein London? What about the Huge Statue of Liberty in NewYokeCitythat represents the USimage all over the world?

The government vision of constructing monorail inPort Harcourtshould not be truncated based on the previous mind set of the people in the name of corruption. The monorail project is so important to Rivers people to be abandoned by the government. It is time to encourage the government of Rivers start to forge ahead without delay. The State assembly should as a matter of urgent attention enact laws that should discourage Rivers State Government from abandoning projects that have direct hearing on the lives of Rivers people. The monorail project, if jealously completed according to specification, will be a symbol of honour for Rivers People.

The Rivers State Governor, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi should as a matter of major priority make the contractor to be on site as that will help boost the confidence of Rivers people that the project will be completed in due time. It is true that the Government meant well for Rivers people and therefore he should put every machinery in motion to make sure the project is completed. There is need to enact laws that should guide each phase of the project in Rivers State. If there is no legal frame work to monitor the pace of work of such magnitude some unfortunate manipulation might happen to this life changing project. The monorail project is so important to Rivers people, therefore, the government should make sure that the people have a taste of it in the state. It is also believed that the project if completed will ease transportation and also cause reduction in fare paid by Rivers People.

The people have a lot of duties to do: one to encourage government to complete the project, two, by monitoring the project. It is one of the biggest projects by this administration. Therefore, there is no need of abandonment if really the government knows the importance of the project to Rivers people. There is no need for pessimism as that was in the past. Therefore, every Rivers man must be made to have hope in the state government. Monorail is one project that no Rivers man no matter his religious inclination or political plat form would think of abandoning. It will be an act of insanity and wickedness if monorail was found in the list of abandoned projects after the exit of this present administration.

Thus, monorail is a monumental project that will speak for any administration that did it. The government must be helped morally to complete the project. Monorail is not a waste if completed and put to use inRiversState. The truth is that no concerned Rivers person wants to see abandoned project as it was the routine of things in the past. The Governor, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi should use his position as governor to restore the hope of Rivers people in this dispensation.

Monorail is so important for anyone to abandon in this 21st century. Monorail is a history making project inRiversState. Monorail if completed will aid economic development of the state. Therefore, completion of the project should he everyone’s expectation. Let us support the government to meet the vision of the project. And the government must be serious and sincere with the project. #####

Frank Eneawaji Ogwuonuonu

Frank Eneawaji Ogwuonuonu is a public affairs analyst who resides in Port Harcourt.