By Chris Ochayi
The Federal Government has reiterated its commitment towards the completion of the four sections of the East west highways dualisation projects in the Niger Delta region by December 2021.
Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, who stated this while speaking in Abuja, said with the recent release of N20 billion the project would experience accelerated actions beginning from November.
He said a total of N9 billion of the N20 billion has already been released and distributed to the contractors handling the projects,
Senator Akpabio, who however has ruled out further variation of the projects, said, “In my opinion I said the road was over prized and that I will not be able to entertain anything about variation. And that we should attempt to do the road at the original cost.
According to him, “You must have roads to be able to carry your products across. Mr. President has graciously returned the East West road construction back to the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs.
“And he has put in his speech that they must commission that road between now and December 2021. And what it means is that we don’t have time at our hands and we must get cracking. The time for real construction in the Niger delta region is during the dry season, so by November to February we will start.
“The release of the money is timely and he has also promised to assist the ministry in any way possible to ensure that road is completed. In my opinion I said the road was over prized and that I will not be able to entertain anything about variation.
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“And that we should attempt to do the road at the original cost. I had to tell the contractors that I want to see the value further money that has been put in there. So far the Federal Government has spent about N331 billion on the road from Warri, the initial cost remain about N102 billion.
“So the release of this N20 billion, what we are looking for now will be about N82 billion and that’s what we are hoping on. So that as soon as they exhaust this amount we make sure that the next amount is made available to them. The initial release as of yesterday was about N9 billion.”
The 337km road runs from Efurun, in Delta State, to Oron which is by the borders of Cross-River State and Akwa Ibom state, was awarded in 2006 by President Olusegun Obasanjo with the completion dateline of August 2009.
The road projects divided into four sections were awarded at the cost of N211 billion to four construction companies.
The projects include Section 1, the 87 kilometre Warri-Kaiama in Delta and Bayelsa States awarded to Setraco Nigeria Limited at the total sum of N64, 125, 000, 000.00.
The Section II, 101km Kaiama-Port Harcourt road, in Bayelsa and Rivers States was awarded to Julius Berger PLC at the cost of N79, 230,000,000
The Section III Port Harcourt-Eket, which covers 99 km, was awarded to Reynolds Construction Company Nig. Limited at the cost of N35, 600,000,000.00.
The section IV Eket-Oron, Akwa Ibom State which covers 50 kilometres was also awarded to Gitto Construzioni Generali Nig. Limited at the cost of N26, 000,000.00.
The militancy activities in the Niger Delta region, forced the Julius Berger PLC to abandon the N79, 230,000,000 Section II, 101km Kaiama-Port Harcourt road, in Bayelsa and Rivers States and later awarded to Setraco Nigeria Limited.
However, the highway dualisation project was removed from the Ministry of Works and handed over to the Ministry of Niger Delta affairs in 2009, as its flagship project.
Determined to complete and deliver the highway project to the people, the newly created ministry then, re-awarded the Section II, with the scope of works unchanged to Messrs. Setraco Nig. Ltd. in April/May 2009 into two sub sections namely: Section II Sub Section I: Port Harcourt – Ahoada (47Km) at a Contract sum of N29,922,478,839.19 with a completion period of 48 months and Section II Sub Section II: Ahoada- Kaiama (54km) with a contract sum of N44,883,718,258.18, with a completion period of 36 months.
In the new revised regime, the contract sum was subsequently shot up with the Section I, Warri-Kaiama, 87km, now costs N122.2b against N64.1b; Section II, subsection I, Port Harcourt-Ahoada, 47km, N48.9b against N29.9b; Section II subsection II, Ahoada-Kaiama, 54km, N84.7b against N44.8b; section III, Port Harcourt-Eket, 99km, N66.4b against N35.6b and Section IV, Eket- Oron, 51km, now N37.5b against N26b.
The cost of the project which was first awarded in September 2006 for a combined sum of N211 billion has been reviewed upward to the tune of N349.8 billion.
Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of Vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.