By Chris Ochayi
ABUJA — Notwithstanding the recent flood which submerged the Ugheli-Patani section of the project, the Federal Government has re-assured that the N350 billion dualisation of the East-West highway project will be completed by December 2014, as it said the funding hitches suffered by the project were over.
Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Elder Godsday Orubube, who gave the assurance while leading top officials of the ministry on the post flood inspection tour of the highway project said funding would not threaten the 2014 completion dateline of the project.
The minister who assessed the impact of flood on sections I and II and part of section III, beginning from Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, enroute Warri, Delta State, told journalists at the worst affected Ughelli-Patani portions that the ministry decided to devote more of their funds to fast track the speedy completion of the project, which he described as flagship project of the ministry.
According to him, the ministry is on course and is set to deliver on the East-West Road project, at the stipulated time. He disclosed that to complete the project, the ministry made extra efforts to secure funding from alternative sources as a result of the poor budgetary allocation.
This step, Orubebe explained, would enable the ministry to overcome the challenges posed by the flooding, considering its economic.
He said, “I vowed to look for alternative sources of funding which are now available, the framework is done. And that is why am telling everybody that we are on course, this project will be delivered. And so, funding will not be a problem as far as this government is concerned. We are working to meet the dateline as promised by Mr. President.
“We cannot find a better period than this. Mr. President is determine, this government is determined to ensure that a difference is made. To this effect, let me restate that this road and all other activities will be completed by the set date.’ He posited.
Noting that the East- West road project has attained 51 percent completion, Elder Orubebe said though it was awarded in 2006 with 2010 as the initial scheduled completion year, and inherited from the federal ministry of works in 2009 it recorded just 10 percent work completion.
While commending the commitment of contractors handling the projects towards achieving the prompt completion of the project, the minister said however that the actual releases for the remaining year has not been made to the contactors.
He revealed that the ministry is indebted to the contractors to the tune of N24 billion.
Revealing that compensation has been paid to affected persons in Port Harcout, the minister charged contractors to brace up for the yuletide.
‘What I will tell you is that the contractors we have on ground are grade A Contractors in this country. What they have even put on ground is more than what government have put in. the minister stated’.
“Mr. President has told everybody that by the time he will leave office, people will remember that these things were done during his administration. we will not disappoint the people of this country. All am asking for is that they should exercise a little more patience.
“This is just a temporary measure to allow free traffic flow but the intension of Mr. President is to ensure that contractors work round the clock to ensure some solid work is done between now and the yuletide period. the Minister further posited.”