The Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, Mr. Nsima Ekere, has pledged to urgently address the issues of compensation for right of way for its development projects in the Niger Delta region.
Mr. Ekere gave the assurance when a delegation from the Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers, NIESV, paid him a courtesy visit at the Commission’s headquarters in Port Harcourt. The NDDC Executive Director Projects, Engr. Samuel Adjogbe, and some directors of the Commission joined in receiving the delegation.
The NDDC Chief Executive Officer remarked that the issue of compensation had brought a lot of complaints from both communities and project consultants, blaming the problem on inadequate provisions in contracts for the payment of compensation.
Ekere said: “The fund is always a bit low so that by the time a consultant finishes evaluation and brings a report, you find out that what is in the contract is not adequate to pay compensation.”
He stated that the Public Procurement Act made it very cumbersome for review of contract sums and “that is one of the problems we have had in payment of compensations and settling of fees to consultants.”
The NDDC boss assured that outstanding payments to estate surveyors and valuers would be addressed holistically through a joint committee of the NDDC and NIESV, to be headed by the Commission’s Executive Director Projects EDP. “The issues will be treated on a case by case basis,” he said.
Ekere said that the current Board and Management of the NDDC had articulated a very ambitious reform programme christened the 4-R Strategy. He declared: “We are now doing things differently by using the 4-R initiative to add value to the process of the Commission. Through this initiative, we have structured our processes to make them transparent. Hence, we are restructuring the balance sheet; reforming the governance protocols; restoring the Commission’s core mandate and reaffirming its commitment to doing what is right and proper.”
The Chairman Rivers State Branch of the Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and values, Mr. Elliot Orupabo, lamented that some members of the NIESV, who were Consultants to the Commission, faced difficulties while performing jobs awarded to them.
He decried the absence of a valuation unit to handle right-of-way acquisition and compensation matters, stating: “the absence of this unit is a major lacuna which the engineers in the Project Management Department has capitalized upon to vet and tamper with compensation valuation reports prepared by registered estate surveyors and valuers without recourse to the consultant.”
Orupabo highlighted the provisions of the Estate Surveyors and Valuers Registration Act Cap E13 LFN, which states: “Only a Registered Estate Surveyors and Valuer shall value and determine the value of property in Nigeria.”
He urged the NDDC to create a valuation unit to be headed by a registered estate surveyor and valuer, to handle all issues of valuation and compensation.
Orupabo advised the Commission to always ensure the engagement and mobilization of estate valuers to site after clearance, noting that this had always been a problem to the consultant estate valuer, as the final value of compensation was often considered by the Commission as high, while the Community considered the values as inadequate.
According to him, estate valuers should be engaged early enough to go to site before the commencement of construction work. “This will enable the valuer capture all heads of chains accurately along the right of way,” he said.