ACE-PUTOR Holds Stakeholders Consultative Meeting

By Jennifer Emejuru

In line with the World Bank's requirement and the regulations of the country in preparation for an Environmental Impact Assessment. (EIA), the World Bank Centre for Excellence has held an Environmental and Social Management Plan (ESMP) with the University representatives, stakeholders, and members of the host community.

The 30-minute Consultative Forum which held on Monday, September 5, 2022 at the ongoing site of the ACE-PUTOR construction project along the East west road axis, was a time for brainstorming on possible ways to mitigate the impacts of the project on the environment, members of the community and the end-users.

Speaking at the end of the inspection, Environmental Consultant, ESMP ACE-PUTOR project, Mr Gift Chukwuka said the meeting became necessary to allow the project move to the next phase as well as identify possible setbacks where necessary.

According to him, for any people's-based project to be optimised, there is a need for frequent tete-a-tete. “The essence of this consultative forum is to share ideas and galvanise the perception of the masses on the project in respect to the environmental impact that may arise as this will help us in putting together the ESMP for the project. This plan when excuted will ensure that projects are not lying fallow but will be used accordingly,” the Consultant disclosed.

Mr Chukwuka, who stressed the commitment of the World Bank in ensuring sustainability and maintenance of projects, disclosed that similar consultative meetings will be held throughout the pre-construction, construction and post-construction stages of the capital project.

Speaking on the outcome of the interactive session, the Environmental Consultant listed some of the identified grey areas to include: The need for a connecting access road from the Institute of Petroleum Studies into the Centre to limit the use of the East West Trunk A road, use of the IPS Post-graduate hostels to accommodate the PUTOR students, and an end to farming activities around the project site which according to him, are defacing the building area. He, however, shared his optimism that with the existing synergy between the PUTOR and the University, the project when completed will meet up with international best practices.

Speaking on the uniqueness of the project and how it will impact the University differently, the Acting Deputy Centre leader, ACE- PUTOR, Dr. Antionette Ezejiofor, said the Centre will close the gap in environmental toxicological researches and public health concerns. According to her, the facility which would accommodate laboratories, classrooms, and administrative blocks will focus on training and capacity building for graduates of science-related courses including nursing. “We are not just going to operate like every other centre. This is a World Bank project and we will live up to the expectations as a centre of excellence,” she said.

On his part, a representative of the host community, Worlu Shadrack expressed satisfaction that such a project of global recognition is sited on the community land. H e n o t e d t h a t development strides achieved in the University also amount to goodwill for the host communities. He, however, called for the inclusion of youths of the community to the project as a form of compensation for their acquired farmlands. “As you can see our people can no longer farm here as a result of the project so it is important for us to be integrated into the project in any way possible.

We are asking the Management of the Centre to appoint a Community Liaison Officer, (CLO). From the community, that will be responsible for the community members working on the site. “We are a peace-loving community and we expect that things must be done rightly,” he said.

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