BY CHRIS OCHAYI
ABUJA—The Federal Government, Thursday, reassured Nigerians, particularly people of the Niger Delta, that the N347 billion East West highway dualisation projects would be completed and deliver by December 2014.
Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Elder Godsday Peter Orubebe, who stated this while featuring at the 2013 ministerial press briefing to showcase the achievements of his ministry under the mid-term report, disclosed that some sections of the road had been completed and were due for handing over by the contractors.
He added that the 338 kilometres dual carriageway was very strategic and would be completed at the stipulated time.
Orubebe, who said the government was committed to the development of the Niger Delta, sought the cooperation, support and collaboration of stakeholders in the region to nip in the bud pockets of threats and kidnapping of expatriates and excessive demands by communities from contractors which often result in work stoppage.
Orubebe explained that because of the importance of the road to the people, some other on-going projects had been sacrificed to ensure the completion date was realised.
The minister, who noted that the ministry had spent over N200 billion on executions of various development projects in the last three years, spreading across the nine states that made up the Niger Delta, noted, however, that N1 trillion was required to accelerate developments in the region.
He said: “The dualisation of the East-West road which commenced in 2006 and was taken over by the ministry at 10 percent completion in 2010, has now reached over 52 percent completion.
Orubebe said, “With the level of commitment by this administration, the road would be completed by December, 2014. Some sections of the road have been completed and are due for handing over by the contractors.”
Other road projects being handled by the ministry, according to Oruebebe, include the reconstruction of 35.15 kilometre Owerri-Elele road, in Imo and Rivers states, reconstruction of Benin-Abraka road in Edo and Delta states and constructions of 12 other roads spread across the nine states.
Enumerating challenges confronting the ministry, Orubebe said: “The ministry is faced with budgetary constraints in the implementation of its projects and programmes.
“The terrain in most parts of the region makes infrastructural development a difficult task. High costs of projects and technology required for infrastructure projects as a result of the terrain constitute a serious challenge.”
On security, he said, “even though youth restiveness and insecurity in the region have abated, intermittent disruption of projects by the youths and excessive demands on contractors by communities and individuals and incidences of kidnapping still constitute serious problems; this situation has often led to work stoppages.
Threat of insecurity, kidnapping of expatriates
On the housing scheme, Orubebe said “the construction of 360 units housing, of 40 units of two and three bedroom bungalows in each of the nine states has reached about 65 percent completion,” adding, “some of the housing units will be commissioned and allocated to the beneficiaries before the end of this year.”
On job creation, he said “it should be noted that the work on the dualisation of the East West road; remediation, reclamation and rehabilitation work; construction of Skills Acquisition Centres; and building of housing units by the ministry in the nine states of the Niger Delta have created jobs for over 9,000 people in the region.”
He said also that the ministry was embarking on the establishment of industrial parks in the Niger Delta, adding that “the industrial parks, which will consist of 5,000 Small and Medium Enterprises, SMEs, will manufacture and produce goods and services in over 100 different sectors/areas of the economy and will be a replica of the model in Ankara, Turkey.
“The Ministry has signed a Memorandum of Understanding, MoU, with Ostim of Turkey for the establishment of industrial parks in Niger Delta region. The technical work on the project has commenced and some states in the region have indicated interest.”