By Obaro Egagifo
On July 3, 2020, the first batch of eight commissioners, which included the Delta State Commissioner for Works, Chief James Augoye, will be marking five years on the saddle in the administration of the State, since they were sworn in by the State Governor, Senator (Dr.) Ifeanyi Okowa.
Since first assuming office in 2015, Augoye has been able to interpret the smart initiatives of the State Governor who has been nicknamed “Road Master” in recognition of his outstanding accomplishments in road construction spanning over 407 roads, and several line drainages spread across the State.
A careful appraisal of five-year developments in Delta paints a clear picture of why Governor Okowa is nick-named “Road Master”. But then, there is an ‘unseen hand,’ who has tacitly interpreted and astutely implemented the smart initiatives of the State Governor.
Augoye, the unseen hand and brain behind the “Road Master” in Delta, is a thoroughly bred and well put together politician from Ugbokodo in Okpẹ Local Government Area of the State.
On becoming Commissioner, Augoye, whose education spans from his community primary school to the great University of Benin (UNIBEN), where he bagged his Master’s degree in Public Administration, immediately revolutionized the Delta State Ministry of Works.
In his commitment to seeing that Governor Okowa succeeds in his road infrastructural strides across the State, the very unassuming gentleman will always do everything possible to ensure projects are delivered on time and to make sure Deltans get value for their money.
With how well Augoye has implemented the administration’s initiative, five years later, we can simply look back and Augoye has done quite well in delivering the campaign promises of the administration and more.
Training for civil engineers
At the beginning of every construction year in Delta, in the past years of Augoye becoming Commissioner for Works, he has made training and retraining of civil engineers at all cadre in the Ministry a top priority. Augoye has organized a yearly training workshop for the civil engineers aimed at sharpening and updating the skills of field engineers with modern technology in road construction. The training program is now code-named in the Ministry as “The James Augoye Training and Workshop for Civil Engineers”. Indeed, this will become one of the standing legacies of Augoye in the Ministry.
Indeed, the administration has stayed true in making more communities accessible, with roads that are very vital to the socio-economic development of the people. Construction of roads in the State under the watch of Augoye is all-inclusive as no local government in the State had not witnessed footprints of road construction.
The people of Obomkpa, Issele-Uku, Onicha-Olona, Idumuje-Uno, Ukwu-Nzu, Issele-Mkpitime, among others in Aniocha North as well as Irri, Oleh, Ozoro, Iyede, Emede, Owhelogbo, Ellu, Ofagbe, Ikpide-Irri all in Isoko North and Isoko South and Ughelli, Amekpa, Afiesere, Ofuoma, Oteri, Abraka, Orerokpe, and several other communities in Delta central all have stories to tell of footprints in road construction into their various communities. The story is not different in riverine communities of Burutu Town, Ogulagha, Yokri, Obotobo, Sokebolo, Okerenkoko, Ogidigben, Koko, among others.
While also constructing feeder roads, the administration has continued construction works on the Ughelli Asaba dualization project. A trip to the project site along the Sector C which includes from Asaba to Oloh-Ossisa, reveals massive construction work currently ongoing as well as the Sector A from Ughelli to Isoko.
Under Augoye’s watch, the Delta State Government has built over 400 roads, and counting.
Legacy project: Asaba stormwater erosion control project
Perhaps the biggest achievement of the administration will no doubt be in the area of flood control in Asaba, the State capital. Embarrassed by hardship posed by flooding in the State capital, Governor Okowa awarded the multi-billion naira storm drainage contracts to check the perennial flooding of the State capital. Augoye took it upon himself to see that the aim of the Governor was achieved.
Today, the hardship posed by flooding in the State capital has now become a thing of the past as Asaba now has deep underground sewers that take all the floodwater from Nnebisi road, connecting the Direct Labour Agency (DLA) road to Jesus Saves road and Agric road, on one end, while also curbing the menace of floodwater on DBS road, cabinet office road, and environs, connected to the Marian Babangida road, and properly channelled to Oyabi river.
Those who are familiar with the capital city before now can testify of the level of flooding in the capital city. The whole of DLA, Okpanam road, DBS road, Ralph Uwechie road and several others including the Okotomi area of Okpanam have now been rescued from the annual flooding ritual. Indeed with the first phase of the stormwater drainages, Asaba residents now sleep with two eyes closed. All thanks to the effective supervision of Augoye.
Legacy project: Asaba Airport project
Another key achievement of the administration is the Asaba Airport. Deltans and indeed Nigerians would recall that in 2015, the Asaba International Airport was downgraded by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) over safety concern that was largely due to the faulty runway. With courage and determination on the part of the Governor, the Delta State Government awarded the contract to Setraco Nigeria Limited under the supervision of the Ministry of Works that has been under the purview of Augoye since the first term of Governor Okowa.
With the downgrade, only Dash 8-Q 400 aircraft or its equivalent were allowed to operate using the airport. Today, the story is different; all the safety issues have been addressed; the Asaba Airport runway is now completed and operational with better facilities. The runway is 3.4 kilometres long, theoretically capable of receiving a 747 aircraft, meaning that larger aircraft like the 737 can now safely use the airport. As of 2013, Asaba Airport serviced an average of 6,880 passengers per month on 260 flights. Commercial activities have since increased drastically with the restoration of the airport to a decent condition, all thanks to the Ministry of Works supervisory role under the watch of Augoye.
Legacy project: Marian Babangida road
The Marian Babangida road is one strategic road at the heart of the city of Asaba. The road, a dual carriageway linking Okpanam road to the Asaba/Benin express road, has defied the technical abilities of past administration due to the terrain, the location, and nature of the road. When this administration came on board, the technicalities of the addressed were tabled and addressed appropriately. Today, the road has since been completed and in use by Deltans.
Legacy project: Ugbomro road (Phase 1)
This is another award-winning road project achieved by Governor Okowa under the meticulous watch of the gentleman Commissioner Augoye. At the inception of the administration, the Governor was so desirous of tackling that road problem, which has in the past, always been an abandoned project. That determination made the Governor to award the road contract to Setraco. The project has since been completed and commissioned. The people of Ugbomro, and other communities, and indeed the Federal University of Petroleum Resources, Effurun (FUPRE) will forever remain grateful for the road.
Roads and bridges in riverine communities
Governor Okowa is not nick-named Road Master for nothing. From the Okorenkoko road projects, the Ogidigben township road, Burutu township roads, the Ayakoromor bridge project and indeed the multi-billion naira Trans-Warri Ode-Itsekiri road project and bridges linking over eight communities across the Excavos-Focados river could best be described as signature and historic projects in the life of the people. Indeed this is what the Road Master Governor means to the riverine communities.
The unending commitment of Augoye, and his tenacity to effectively interpret government policies and implement, sets him apart, earning him the appellation as the unseen hand behind the “Road Master” in Delta, etching him as enviable and endearing in the hearts of Deltans.