Senator Heineken Lokpobiri, Minister of State for Petroleum Resources (Oil), 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 Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF) brought about the project to promote 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 designated to the CSDT by the PTDF include automobile works, basic electrical works, basic requirements in Health Safety and Environment (HSE), masonry, seismic survey technology, welding, catering, electronics repairs, and fabrication.

The Minister was impressed by the scope and quality of work done just at 85 percent completion during his arrival at the project site on facility tour, but he was displeased that project execution has stalled because of wrangling between the PTDF and contractors over variation-related issues and prolonged delays in payment.  

The Minister went along side with the Executive Secretary, NCDMB, Engr. Simbi Kesiye Wabote and the Executive Secretary of PTDF, Alhaji Aminu Ahmed Galadima, said the project was of great importance and does not have to remain uncompleted any longer. “We have to move forward,” he said, adding that “further intervention by the Board is necessary to reap the full benefits of the investments already made.

After questioning some contractors and confirmation by the PTDF boss that no sufficient fund to pay one of them, Senator Lokpobiri extracted a commitment from the latter that the outstanding section of work would be completed within six weeks.

Generally, the aim for its establishment is for the Centre to be successful, he said, “We have to set up a sustainable management structure that will keep the facility at a globally acceptable standard.”

In his earlier speech 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 mentioned, were non-functional even though they had been completed and equipped. Equipment in all had been stolen or destroyed, so it became necessity for establishment of a standardized and federal government-backed vocational centres at strategic locations.                                     

He said NCDMB had shown its readiness to take over CSDT when it became obvious that the feuding parties, PTDF and its contractors, could not settle their differences. He expressed enthusiasm that the work would progress smoothly after the facility visit, and that there will be a functional management as everything will be put in order before the startup time.

Early in a welcome address, the PTDF chief executive, Alhaji Galadima, appreciated the Minister, the NCDMB boss and the Management of Megastar, the major contractor, and others for their appearance at the site and the encouraging roles they have played thus far.

Lots of gigantic structures at the project site such as an 8-storey Administrative Block, hostels and staff quarters, workshops multi-storey classroom blocks, and others.


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