By Ediri Ejoh
ABUJA—The Federal Government yesterday said it was committed to reviving depleted infrastructure in the South-East, noting that to this end, it had embarked on construction of 58 road projects, including highways and bridges.
This was disclosed during a visit of the Igbo World Union, IWU, to the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing in Abuja.
The Minister of State for Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Mustapha Shehuri, who received IWU delegates, stated that “in the southeast alone, we have ongoing construction of 58 highways and bridges. We also have the second Niger Bridge ongoing. Others are the Enugu- Port-Harcourt road; Umuahia- Aba road and the Second Niger Bridge which I personally went to inspect.
“I never thought of the progress achieved in the project. The contractors had in one year done almost 40 percent. That means they can deliver the project in less than the projected three years given.
“I want to assure Nigerians that we are all partners and we can work together to deliver the projects as we all need to put our heads together and ensure that government realizes and delivers on its wishes and projects. However, that cannot be possible unless there is peace.”
He explained that President Muhammadu Buhari strongly believed in investment in infrastructure to grow the country’s economy.
He said: “Despite the crash in oil price when we came in, the budget for infrastructure (road alone) was over N280 billion.”
He however, hinted that the lingering abandoned projects in the country “can be attributed to little or no fund disbursement to foster projects. Some of the contractors for some of the huge projects cannot begin with N1 billion over N100 billion earmarked contracts.
“In the past, there are contractors that have not been paid for over two years. We decided not to toy with that part and continue paying while other sources of fund are explored”.
Speaking earlier, President, IWU, Dr. Mishak Nnata, decried the huge gap in infrastructure development in the Southeast.
According to him, “It is known and established that the southeast lacks most in federal infrastructures. Wayfarers plying federal roads of that region sing different songs compared to the other regions that enjoyed modern up-to- date highways.
“Observers are worried that this particular region may have been tactically schemed out/excluded from the current trans-regional rail construction and rehabilitation.”