The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Sen. Godswill Akpabio has stated that the flood ravaging the Niger Delta region has made the distribution of Petroleum products very difficult, particularly for retailers who may want to access the area.
Akpabio, who stated this when he met with the Executive Members of Petroleum Products Retail Outlets Owners Association of Nigeria (PETROAN), during a courtesy visit to his office in Abuja yesterday lamented that the situation was seriously affecting the economy and peace of the region.
He noted that the idea of pontoons, floating stations and motorised barges for the distribution of Petroleum and Gas products across the riverine communities is a welcome development introduced by PETROAN.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Red Cross Society (NRCS) has appealed to the Minister to provide the society with Grants and Ambulances to expand its services to victims of flood in the region.
NRCS National President, Elder Bolaji Anani made the appeal yesterday in Abuja when he led a delegation on a courtesy visit to the minister.
Anani said that having realized that NRCS have similar mission with the Ministry and the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), the group sought to collaborate with them in order to increase the impact and scope of NRCS within the region and the Nation at large.
Akpabio noted that there was an existing government policy on the establishment and provisions of Floating Stations that may have become moribund due to issues of irregular supply and management problem. He said it was important to revisit the policy and look at ways of re-introducing the facilities to facilitate the provision of goods and services to the riverine Communities.
“I think it is something that is doable considering the quantum of funds that have been allocated to the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) as an interventionist agency over the years.”
We can collaborate to do things in this regard that would improve the economy and foster infrastructural development of the region,” he said.
According to Akpabio, the Federal Government has ordered the release of over N2 billion for the construction of Eket by-pass of the East-West road.
He said that he subscribes to the idea of considering partnership with the private sector to provide and improve on critical infrastructures so that the development strides in the region can change for good and ease the suffering of the people.
The Red Cross President commended the Minister for entrenching transparency and accountability in the NDDC, stating that the Mission of NRCS is to support those in need as a result of disaster, diseases, displacement, dehumanising experience in peace and armed conflict times.
Responding, Akpabio stated: “I have always adopted the Red Cross policies and action in governance. Today more than ever, we need your partnership and collaboration because of flood and other challenges in the region.
“Therefore, I will take up the few request you have made to the Ministry with the Permanent Secretary, look at ways the Ministry can assist the society to do a better job for us in the Niger Delta region and also consider assigning a liaison officer who would be the focal person in the Ministry to interface with your organization, so that we can have a workable partnership with the resources available,” he said.