Mrakpor Magic: How DSCTDA Was Transformed In Three Months (Part One)

Hon. Mrakpor, during a recent clean up exercise at Ogbeogonogo Market

By Fortune Ngozi Onwordi

Barely four months now, since the board of Delta State Capital Territory Development Agency (DSCTDA) was inaugurated on August 1, 2019, by His Excellency, Sen. Dr. Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa, the Agency has undergone a type of transformation that can best be described as magical.
In just three months, the Agency has risen from obscurity to prominence among the MDAs in Delta State.

How did such great transformation happen in such a short time? According to a popular axiom, "it is not the office that makes the man but the man that makes the office."
It will be recalled that during the swearing in ceremony at the Event Centre, Asaba, after carefully examining the calibre of men and women inaugurated as Chairman, Director General and board members of DSCTDA, Sen. Ighoyota Amori, Chairman of the board noted that Gov. Okowa has rolled out what he described as "the Big masqurades". In his view, if there was a team that could deliver the mandate of restoring the status of Asaba as a capital city, the just inaugurated board was it.
In all, all eyes were on Hon. Mrs. Joan Onyemaechi Mrakpor, a former two-time Delta State House Assembly member and House of Representatives member, who meritoriously represented the four councils that make up Aniocha/Oshimili Federal Constituency that incidentally form part of the Delta State Capital Territory.
Upon resumption of duty, one day after the swearing-in ceremony, Mrakpor called a meeting of all the members of staff at the Agency to familiarize with them and to chart the way forward.
After a meeting that lasted about three hours within which she listened to everyone, carefully jotting down their complaints, she was conducted round the office premise. Throughout the tour, the new DG noted all that was faulty or missing in the office, ranging from failed electrical appliances, doors without lock, rickety vehicles, faulty power generating set, dilapidated and peeling walls, algae infested fence and floor, ubiquity of pests such as rodents and mosquitoes to mention but a few. Worse still, the accounts department reported a balance of just N40,000, with some adhoc staff unpaid for over seven months.

On September 23, Mrs. Mrakpor convened a well publicised stakeholders' meeting between the Agency and all business and property owners within the capital territory.
During the meeting, a timeline was adopted for residents to go back and tidy up their environment before the commencement of enforcement of sanitation laws. A 21-day ultimatum was agreed upon by businesses and property owners within the capital territory, including private and public enterprises during the meeting.
After the expiration of the 21-day ultimatum, the deadline was extended by additional two weeks before the enforcement of sanitation laws by officials of the agency.

Hon. Mrakpor addressing the stakeholders during the meeting

Perhaps, sensing the enormity of the task to rid Asaba and its environs of filth that was almost overwhelming the area, Gov. Okowa went ahead to constitute a Joint Task Force on Environmental Sanitation. The Joint Task Force comprises the DSCTDA, the Ministry of Environment, the Waste Management Board, Ministry of Information as well as the Directorate of Orientation. Addressing Pressmen on October 14, in Asaba, about the plan of the Task Force, the Commissioner for Information, Mr. Charles Aniagwu, said it is a government initiative involving the entire citizenry and designed to ensure that people keep their environment clean. The Commissioner for Environmental Mr. Chris Onogba also charged residents to take ownership of their environment, while the Chairman, Waste Management board stressed that the board has already secured judgement against two persons for indiscriminate waste disposal.

From Left, Mr. Aniagwu, Mrs. Mrakpor, Mr. Onogba, Mr. Chinye and Mr. Uzum

After over 30 days of continuous sensitization and awareness, on October 22, the Task Force swung into full action, shutting down the premises of prominent government offices and private business for flouting environmental laws. Some of the offices affected include, Ministry Of Arts And Culture, Post Primary Education Board, Ministry of Works, Ministry Of Water Resources, Rain Oil, etc. The exercise continued with the removal of illegal attachments to shops and business premises. For over two weeks, the officials, led by Hon. Mrakpor and the Commissioner for Environment, went through the major roads in the state capital to enforce extant laws on waste disposal, respect for the environment and codes on extension of rented businesses and stores.
The street traders and owners of stores along major roads who turned the setback on major roads to commercial centres and had become serious sources of environmental degradation, assault on basic rules of hygiene on waste disposal and crippling traffic snarl were pushed back without demolition of permanent structures

The fact that the task force's operations began with government owned premises and property in high brow areas elicited optimism that unlike previous exercises, the present one may be the real deal. The traders were soon successfully evacuated with about 12 persons convicted by a Mobile Court, set up to enforce the extant environmental laws.
However, in solving that problem, another challenge was created. How will the evacuated traders be resettled and accommodated.

The Agency in collaboration with private sector organisations to construct modern standard designs of vendor zone and drive-through fruit shops in strategic locations within the capital city. Such shops which were designed to contain a convenience, located at an appropriate distance from the shops, were built at FMC, Summit Junction, NTA Junction and Akpu Junction, along Okpanam road. The shops which are near completion are meant to accommodate the evacuated street traders whose data were initially documented for ease of resettlement.

The barbecued fish shops at Akpụ Junction, along Okpanam road

Remarkably, the Agency oversaw the clean up of Ogbeogonogo Market, Midwifery Market, and the removal of shanties as well as closure of Hausa Market, along Okpanam Road.
Currently, a well mapped out make-shift Market is brooding at an open land space after Midwifery Junction. Also, the Ogbeogonogo Market is presently undergoing fencing of its perimeter to discourage the Market spillover to pedestrian walkway.

Ongoing Fencing Work At Ogbeogonogo Market

In beautification, the Agency, through the DG, opened up talks with UBA, Zenith Bank and others who have undertaken beautification projects in the State Capital for an upgrade. The move proved successful as the banks are currently upgrading their beautification projects, Thus, giving the city a refreshing ambience.
At McDon's, Akpụ Junction, Umu Onaji Junction, Midwifery Market, Summit Junction etc, the Agency restricted the movement of tricycle operators, thereby easing traffic and reducing the frequency of accident occasioned by reckless drivers.
Sen. Okowa also approved the appointment of 40 environmental monitors whose job is to monitor the environment and ensure that environmental laws are adhered to.

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