By Babajide Okeowo
The Rivers State Executive Council, on Wednesday, gave its approval for the state government to access N15 billion facility from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN’s) Infrastructure Fund, to enable the state to complete three critical projects.
Mr Isaac Kamalu, the state Commissioner for Finance, disclosed this at a briefing after the Executive Council meeting in Port Harcourt.
Kamalu said that the three major projects are the Oyigbo -Okoloma Road; Chokocho-Igbodo Road and construction of the 10th flyover by the administration at Rumuokwurushi-Elimgbu.
He said that accessing the fund could fast track the completion of these projects, considering the benefit of the facility, at a very low interest rate of 5 per cent repayable within 20 years, with three years moratorium.
“In her deliberations at the Executive Council meeting today, Council approved that the Rivers state government should access the Central Bank of Nigeria Infrastructure Support Facility to the tune of N15 billion.
“You will recall that prior to now, the Rivers state government had accessed funds for these projects.
“However, these funds, even if put together, will not be able to accomplish these three critical projects mentioned,” he said.
Kamalu expressed optimism that the N15 billion facility would be a very good support to ensure that these projects were delivered on time and served the interest of the state.
The council also took the decision to recover dilapidated government quarters from civil servants and illegal occupants, within the old and New Government Residential Area (GRA), Port Harcourt, and reallocate them to competent private individuals.
Mr Paulinus Nsirim, the state Commissioner for Information and Communications, further explained that the Council took this decision because some of the properties were fraudulently acquired by retired civil servants, through dubious processes of allocation and sale.
According to Nsirim, some of the properties had deteriorated due to the abject neglect and lack of maintenance by the occupants.
“The properties were totally in uninhabitable condition and were converted into commercial and business uses; in some cases, they were sublet to private tenants, or were used as poultries, fish ponds, barbing saloons, and other unauthorized uses.
“The Task Force set up by the Rivers state government to look into this matter found that some of these properties were illegally occupied by non-civil servants, some of whom were even non-indigenes.
“This has, therefore, necessitated the recovery of these properties as part of government’s urban renewal programme, with the civil servant – occupants being reallocated to alternative private properties, through financial support provided by the state government,” he said.Nsirim said the recovery of the properties and their subsequent reallocation would form part of the first phase of the ongoing urban renewal programme of the state government within the old and New GRA, Port Harcourt.