JOE EFFIONG, UYO
Authorities of the Rural Access and Agricultural Marketing Project, RAAMP have declared September, 2022 as the deadline for RAAMP affiliated states to have the Rural Access Road Agency, RARA and State Road Fund, SRF bill forwarded to their respective Houses of Assembly for necessary actions or risk non-release of funds under the project.
National co-ordinator of RAAMP, Mr. Aminu Bodinga Mohamed who disclosed this during the third Implementation Support Mission of the project emphasized that the requirement was part of the legal covenants for states participating in the project.
The Support Mission seeks to assess progress made so far, since implementation of the project with a view to providing necessary corrections, adjustments or modifications to the 13 states participating in the scheme on project implementation.
The provision reads thus: “Each Participating State shall be required to complete, no later than 18 months after the date of the Subsidiary Agreement, the following reformparticipatin the satisfaction of the Recipient and the Association: finalization of legislation stablishing a State Rural Access Roads Agency (RARA) and a State Road Fund (SRF) and placing the same before the State House of Assembly; and failure to comply with the foregoing requirements shall result in the suspension of disbursements to such Participating State until such time as such reforms have
The September, 2022 deadline is therefore in accordance with lawful provisions, since the project had become effective in March, 2021.
RAAMP is an interventionist development project, with funding from the World Bank, French Development Agency and the 13 states, Akwa Ibom inclusive, participating in the scheme across the country even as six new states are said to have keyed into the project recently and are currently threading basic processes to accordingly comcome on board.
The co-ordinator charged all stakeholders to be resolute in the prompt delivery of the Project Development Objectives, PDO, pointing out that having lost some considerable time due to delays experienced during the preliminary levels, it was imperative that all hands should be on deck to fast track the process and realize positive impacts across the country in line with the targets conceived by the project.
Muhamec said: “Rural roads and markets across the country are in serious deficit. RAAMP aims at improving on their present conditions. We all should be in a haste to achieve this, having lost some time already in the course of implementation of this project.
“The project is almost one and half years old now. Where are we? Disbursements by states are very insignificant. We need to do more. The project can only be described as healthy when we are spending.”
He however called on the World Bank to increase their disbursement from her current status of 500 thousand to at least 3 million dollars for more meaningful results to be realized just as states under the project should try and do more in terms of contributing their respective counterpart funds to the project.
The Task Team Leader, TTL of World Bank, Mr. Olatunji Ahmed noted that the bi – annual gathering was the bank’s standard of practice, where stakeholders meet to review their activities so as to evaluate areas of strength, deficiencies and explore the way forward for best results.
“The last time we gathered, the general complain centered around non release of funds by the bank. Now, the ball is in your court, since funds have been disbursed to you. Part of the objectives of this exercise is to collectively draw up our work-plan for the next six months,” he said.
The TTL of French Development Agency, AFD, Mr. Francois Giroudy expressed confidence that participants in the exercise would benefit from the parley to standardize their activities and looked forward to visiting the states subsequently to see things for himself.
On his part, representative of the Project Coordinating Unit, Dr. Kush Peter enjoined states to redouble their efforts to improve on the lives of ther people, adding that all should strive towards writing their names in gold through best practices in the project implementation.
Similarly, Project Coordinators of the 13 RAAMP states made presentations on the challenges, milestones and prospects in their respective states.