As part of the strategic objective of the present Administration to ensure food security and self sufficiency, the National Silos in the south east that have long been awarded and are still under construction are to be up scaled to meet timely target and usage. The Minister of state for Agriculture and Rural Development, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri expressed Governments determination to achieve this target during a facility tour visit to the Bayelsa State Silo located at Igbogene and another at Okigwe in Imo state.
The construction work at the Igbogene Silo bin site had been stalled because of the challenge of the terrain which did not allow for continuity, ,as a result there was an advise from the Ministry of Works and Urban Development for a redesign of the entire architecture to include elevators that will hold up thee silos which will in turn be able to carry any weight of grain that shall be stored in them, be it rice, wheat, sorghum or maize as the farmers produce. This need of redesign also affected the need for FEC approval and the increased cost of building. There was an only structure standing, the Storage Ware House and two Drying Machines. one of the site contractors, one Mr Dayo Aina gave all these explanation.
Senator Lokpobiri said that there was no way Nigeria can achieve this laudable objective of food security and self sufficiency if the silos are not functioning optimally to store excess produce and adequately arrest all post harvest losses. Storage is the key, Lokpobiri confirmed. He expressed concern and displeasure at the Igbogene silos site, a one year contract awarded since 2009 has lingered till now, eight years after and still far from being completed.
In another development, on his visit to Okigwe, though the 20 Silos bins are already in place, the contractors still had challenges, Mr Luggard Enobokhare,the site Project Manager of Continental Civil Engineering General Construction Company handling the okigwe silo said that the 20 silo grain project was made up of 5000 metric tonnes each, totallying 100,000 metric tonnes.And though it was 70 percent completed.and that it will serve imo and Abia state when completed. he however sited the challenge of topography resulting in huge erosion golly which had hindered construction work.
The Minister expressed displeasure at the very fsr near completion and use of the silo bins both at igbogene in Yeneguoa and Okigwe, he opined that for Govt. to achieve food security, there might be need to get a more capable contractor to handle and deliver the project at a record time frsme that will both be beneficisl and profitable to both government and the farmers.
The Managing Directors of both sites were not at hand to explain to the Minister, there were few staff who were from the look of the environment just drafted to site to portray their presence at the Silo site without doing any reasonable job.
The Director of Strategic Grains Reserve, Engineer Shehu Bello who accompanied the Minister on the facility tour visit said that the construction work on both sites had been stalled due to their varied challenges and the need for approval to be sought, more so where it involved increased cost of construction, he also said both sites had received 50 percent of of the original cost before the envisaged challenges which had greatly altered the increased cost of construction.