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Greater Abuja Water Project on track - Executive Secretary, FCDA

His professional colleagues fondly call him 'the engineer's engineer' because of his innate inclination to solve problems, no matter how knotty, on the trot. A holder of the National Honours of Officer of Order of the Niger (OON), Engr. Umar Gambo Jibrin is Executive Secretary (ES), Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA). A team player and one who recognizes and encourages potential in others, he routinely says ''if you want to go fast, you go alone, but if you want to go far, you go together.'' Also, he is one Chief Executive who enjoys going to sites to see things personally rather than stay back in comfy air-conditioned office; no wonder public construction projects in FCT are moving at a good pace. He fielded questions from Felix Durumbah of Abuja Digest Weekly on certain issues raised by the FCT citizenry.

Abuja Digest Weekly: FCT residents are keen to know what shape the infrastructure development outlook in FCT for 2020 will take. That's by way of roads, bridges and other public utilities that FCDA supervises.

Jibrin: Thank you very much. I think it's a very simple one. The Minister of Federal Capital Territory had mentioned earlier on that what will happen in 2020 is a continuation of the completion of ongoing roads and other services that we're doing in the city to ease movement and improve on the lives of our citizens in doing their businesses in FCT.

All the issues of traffic congestion, issues of illegal motor parks, issues of insecurity, of course, have to be taken very seriously and that's why we're doing enormously to make sure that all areas where we do have bottlenecks and where we know that completing those activities will improve movement, as I said, are where we're paying serious attention.

One particular area is on the Inner Southern Expressway (ISEX), particularly from National Stadium area beyond Galadimawa. If you go there now, you'll see that a lot has been done at the two-way critical points where we do have these congestions and challenges at the Games Village interchange with the Oladipo Diya Road and then at Ring Road 2 where the Galadimawa Roundabout is. If you go there, you'll see the enormity of what we're doing to improve it both in terms of free movement and then in addressing the issue of the last flooding exercise around Galadimawa area.

The other one is around our own area here close to FCTA-FCDA Secretariat. There is a lot of work going on there. What we're doing is take the project to some level where we can then effectively bring to bed the one-way directional movement so that the confusion that you currently have will be a thing of the past. Once the tidying up by the contractor, Messrs Setraco, is concluded---we've already begun to put in the signages around so that people can see that eventually this place would be moving in this direction only---,we're just hoping that in a very short while that will be concluded and then we would ensure that, along with all other stakeholders, particularly the Transport Secretariat, DRTS, FRSC, we'll do a joint action so that people would be compelled to move in the direction that the traffic flow will suggest.

Abuja Digest Weekly: Residents in satellite towns and villages of FCT are also very eager to get update on the proposed Greater Abuja Water Scheme, said to have been okayed by Federal Executive Council (FEC) last year. What's the latest on that project?

Jibrin: The Greater Abuja Water Project is a city water supply scheme. It has little link with the satellite and rural areas. This one has to do with the distribution network within the Federal Capital City, in particular Phases 2 and 3. If you recall, there are a number of storage tanks based on Abuja water master plan put in place. They are meant to supply some of these phases and districts within the phases, but for a very long time the distribution network, which we call secondary mains, have not been put in place.

The water came straight from Lower Usuma Dam after treatment into the reservoirs which are on the periphery of the city, but from there we need to then connect into the city for the use of different areas. But because the lines that we draw from those mains and the tanks are not in place, we had this challenge and that's what led to the loan arrangement with Chinese EximBank for this Greater Abuja Water Scheme to come on stream.

Unfortunately, everything has been done quite alright by the FCT Administration, but it needed to be formally approved by the National Assembly before it can kick off. And that's where the whole matter is hanging for now. But just recently the National Assembly has started the necessary process and the situation has been invited, consultations have been done and briefings have been given as to necessity for this and I feel very hopeful that eventually this approval will be given.

And once that is done, the contractors are very much ready and waiting, the entire supervision team is ready; we've done everything to make sure that the project gets off the ground the moment the approval is given.

Abuja Digest Weekly:There is this pervasive feeling that work has stopped on the Apo Roundabout Bridge. Is this feeling right?

Jibrin: I don't think it's right. These people (contractors) do their work in stages and in different phases. They work at different places; so at some point you'll see them as if they've moved away from a location. It doesn't mean they have. They probably have gone some kilometers away to do some other activity. Like, right now, the contractors are concentrating on a bridge location not quite 500 meters from the interchange location. They're trying to bring the bridge piers and others off the ground so that when the rains come, they have to return and concentrate from where they are already above ground.

And there are issues of relocations. They are doing those relocations where they encounter existing services or, maybe, cables that have been removed, especially security-related cables. It's just a matter of time; they're going to come back to where you're talking about. And we're not just looking at them, we'll try to bring them back at the appropriate time so that they concentrate and finish that one.

Digest Weekly: Updates on other critical matters?

Jibrin: Our own is to provide and continue to make sure that the infrastructure in the city are provided and given the best performance standards. Along this line, if you notice on the Airport Road, we have series of challenges and we've been talking with all the relevant SDAs (Secretariats, Departments and Agencies) to see how the menace can be addressed. We've gotten into discussions with a private investor who has indicated interest to the Administration that they want to do some greening activities in the city.

So, we're discussing with them to see if the Airport Expressway can be the commencing phase of that partnership which will help us to provide the necessary greening and beautification of the Airport Road with respect to the buffer between the service carriageways left and right of the Airport Road right from the City Gate to Bill Clinton Junction, then we effectively should be able to remove all the rickety mechanics and vehicles, illegal markets on those locations and any

activity not befitting on that location, that makes the place untidy.
We're hoping and going forward, in conjunction, like I said, to do that with all the relevant bodies such as Parks and Recreation Department, Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB), Development Control, and, of course, the entire FCDA hierarchy. We'll be looking at that and we hope to succeed and, at least, address all the movement of illegal vehicles and motorcycles and so on.

Another is, you'll have noticed also on the Airport Road that we've begun a pilot of the standard directional signages. We've done it now, just on a skeletal level, on the fringe of the Kuje Road Junction up to the interchange around Bill Clinton so that it'll give requisite direction to motorists. This, we're also hoping to extend it, using the 2020 budget provisions, to make sure that we cover the entire stretch of the Airport Road up to the National Stadium area.

And in the same way, the campaign against open defecation in the Territory generally is something we've taken up as a challenge just as Honorable Minister of FCT directed that we should also key in, following the visit by the Honorable Minister of Water Resources to the Honorable Minister of FCT. Taking off from that, we had a series of meetings with other stakeholders in FCT to make sure that this menace, especially in FCT, is completely eliminated in a very short time. We've lined up series of discussions and then we're going to bring up the needed designs for the public toilets that we require in the various locations.

We're going to have different levels of them; it's not going to be a one-type thing. We agreed that, say, in the Central Area, you'll need a particular type. Depending on the population and the level of services and the usage, we'll design them so that it'll be very environmentally- and user-friendly, making it easy for people to use and there will be a lot of public awareness requirements and we'll do everything and accordingly will be very grateful that the press will help to join the Administration to ensure that the needed awareness is made available to the nooks and crannies of FCT as generally the toilets will help the environmental condition of our city and public health safety.

To cap it all, there is need for all SDAs in FCTA, and by extension every resident of FCT, to give FCDA the needed cooperation and we'll be doing a lot of interface with virtually all of them. We require that they support us on many of these projects that are ongoing and the ones still to come so that we'll be able to get the mandate of FCDA done with minimal disruptions and people will be carried along so that we do it using the Ease of Doing Business framework. We're making sure that we key into all those activities so that we can improve on how we deliver service to the citizens of FCT

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