Why Okowa set up agency to develop state capital, by Mrakpor

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By Onwordi Ngozi Fortune, Asaba

The director general of Delta State Capital Territory Development Agency (DSCTDA), Hon. Mrs. Joan Onyemaechi Mrakpor, has described the desire of Delta State governor His Excellency, Sen. Dr. Ifeanyi A. Okowa, to bring detailed development to the state capital as motive behind the decision to establish the agency in 2015, immediately after he assumed office.

Mrs. Mrakpor stated this Monday 25th of January, 2021, while fielding questions on NEWSDAY, broadcast live on Arise TV.
On why the agency had to be set up nearly 25 years after the creation of Delta State, she said:

“It was the desire of Senator Dr. Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa, to bring proper and detailed development to the capital territory.
“As you are aware, Delta State is indeed very large and we have many cities that are treated as capitals in the state. We have Warri, Kwale, Agbor, Sapele, Ughelli and Asaba.
“There is this determination from the Governor to have a capital with a semblance of what a capital territory should really look like. He also desired to map out strategic projects that will make the area an investor-friendly destination. For this reason, there was need to have a special agency, outside other Ministries and interventions that is solely responsible for achieving that.”

Explaining the challenge posed by the consideration of multiple cities as enjoying the same status as Asaba, the DSCTDA boss said “it was huge because Delta State is a very friendly state. You are hardly able to say who is a non indigene in Delta State and to that extent it was home away from home for every Nigerian. Having that too came with a lot of challenges. It came with persons that would ordinarily expect not to be in a certain places in the capital territory taking up such spaces and the government having a challenge of saying this is our obligation to them as indigenes of the state and needed to make sure that they are well taken care of.
“In doing that, one thing was relocating the people from unauthorised places, another thing is will they be willing to move? Also, another issue was if you are relocating, what will you be doing with them? Of course, Governor Okowa was of the strict opinion that we should not relocate people to hunger; we should not relocate people to unemployment, we should not relocate people to desperation and frustration. And, immediately there was a guideline.
“Yes, we needed to tidy up the capital territory, we needed to get it right, but there was a stipulated pattern as to how we can achieve that and that is, first and foremost, plan out the relocation. If we plan to move hawkers, traders littered everywhere for instance, he says, we should be able to say, I am moving you from point A to B and at point B you will be moving to, you have to make everything available. The necessary facilities needed for them to still earn their living in a decent and friendly environment.
“Take the hawkers for instance, we started off with building what remains the best in the whole of Nigeria today, what we call the Fruit Stands and Food Stands.”

According Mrakpor, “initially, we had hawkers selling their wares in every unimaginable place, especially the road side, in the rain, in the sun and we came up with the idea of building a befitting structure with electricity, steady water supply and conveniences. We built places where traders could display their wares in a very decent and comfortable environment.
Something very significant was also added to it by the governor. His instructed the agency to the effect that for every stall available for allocation, priority must be given to hawkers that were evacuated from the road sides. He only after the itinerant traders who cannot afford to pay for shops must have have been attended to that other people can be considered.

She said that in line with Okowa’s directive, “we took them off the road, put them into a very beautiful environment and they are happy. And as we moved on the city started turning out very beautiful.”

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