By John Ikani
The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources (Oil), Senator Heineken Lokpobiri, has commended the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) for its intervention in the construction of the proposed Centre for Skills Development and Training (CSDT) at Omagwa, Ikwerre Local Government Area of Rivers State.
The project, initiated by the Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF) to promote the acquisition of skills relevant to oil and gas industry operations, has been under construction since 2011. It received a much-needed boost with the entry of the NCDMB as co-financier after due negotiations with the PTDF.
Disciplines earmarked for the CSDT by the PTDF include automobile works, basic electrical works, basic requirements in Health Safety and Environment (HSE), catering, electronics repairs, masonry, seismic survey technology, welding, and fabrication.
At 85 percent completion, the scope and quality of work done were impressive to the Minister, who arrived at the project site on a facility tour on Wednesday, but he was displeased that project execution had stalled because of wrangling between the PTDF and contractors over variation-related issues and prolonged delays in payment.
The Minister who was accompanied on the tour by the Executive Secretary, NCDMB, Engr. Simbi Kesiye Wabote, and the Executive Secretary of PTDF, Alhaji Aminu Ahmed Galadima, said the project was of great significance and does not have to remain uncompleted any longer. “We have to move forward,” he stated, adding that “further intervention by the Board is necessary to reap the full benefits of the investments already made.
After interrogation of some contractors and confirmation by the PTDF boss that funds are now available for payment to one of them, Senator Lokpobiri extracted a commitment from the latter that the outstanding section of work would be completed within six weeks.
Overall, for the Centre to be successful in fulfilling the aims of its establishment, he said, “We have to set up a sustainable management structure that will keep the facility at a globally acceptable standard.”
Speaking earlier on how NCDMB became involved in the project, Engr. Wabote said it was the determination of the Board to check the proliferation of vocational centres, which were as many as 250 in the three states of Rivers, Bayelsa and Akwa Ibom. Most of them, he noted, were non-functional even though they had been completed and equipped.
Equipment in all had been stolen or vandalised, so it became necessary to establish standardized and federal government-backed vocational centres at strategic locations.
NCDMB, according to him, had signified its preparedness to take over CSDT when it became apparent that the feuding parties, PTDF and its contractors, could not resolve their differences. He expressed optimism that the work would progress smoothly after the facility visit, and an effective management would be put in place at the time of take-off.
Early in a welcome address, the PTDF chief executive, Alhaji Galadima, thanked the Minister, the NCDMB boss and the Management of Megastar, the major contractor, and others for their presence at the site and the encouraging roles they have played thus far.
Among the magnificent structures at the project site are an 8-storey Administrative Block, multistorey classroom blocks, hostels and staff quarters, workshops, and a cafeteria.