August 19, 2021

CHEC resumes work on Markudi-Keffi expressway

…As FG promises compensation to affected communities

The Federal Government has taken some steps to address the challenges that led to last month’s stoppage of the dualisation work at the Benue section of the Markudi-Keffi Expressway being constructed by the China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC).

The Government during a conciliation meeting yesterday in Markudi, the Benue state capital, said construction was stopped because the communities around the road threatened the workers following lack of compensation on their farmlands, homes and shrines that were reportedly affected as a result of the construction work in the sector.

Minister of Works and Housing  Babatunde Fashola, said the government has set up a committee that will ensure that by next week, all those entitled to compensation will be paid, even as he appealed to the people to cooperate with CHEC to continue work on the site  as it will boost the socio-economic life of the people.

The Minister, who was represented by a delegation led by Ishaq Mohammed, noted that the dualisation of the Markudi -Keffi Road, at the section 4 in the Benue axis, will have to resume, adding that it had met with stakeholders in the state to address the issue.

“The Minister has already set up a compensation payment committee and they have worked out modalities.  The committee will commence payment next week,” he said.

He added that enumeration has been done and money has been released, promising that the payment will go directly to the beneficiaries and not through a third party as being speculated.

Also Speaking at the meeting, Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, appealed to the people to allow work to continue, stressing that when the project is completed, it will help the communities.

“There is standard procedure for compensation which is also part of the contract, including the construction of bridge and there is timeline for the construction. The Minister has promised me that by news week, the payment of the compensation will start.

“I want them to resume work because there is a timeline to this project, he said adding the “I won’t preside over the state and allow my people to be shortchanged.”

 He however, warned miscreants who might seize the opportunity to threaten the workers with kidnap, to desist from such acts as they will be squarely dealt with.

Li Qiang Qiang, Project Manager of CHEC, said the outcome of the meeting raised much hope about its completion.

He said “the project started on April 1, 2019. Two years have passed. I hope that the project can be completed as soon as possible with the support of all parties. I believe that after the project is completed and handed over to use, it can effectively reduce the incidence of traffic accidents and play a positive role in promoting economic development.”  

He also praised  the residents along the road for the patience on the demolition along the road for the construction to take place, saying  “the project demolition has been carried out for a long time, and residents along the road have given a greater understanding , support and established a good friendship.”

The dualisation of Keffi-Akwanga-Lafia-Makurdi road project was awarded in May 2015, and it commenced in April 2019. It is billed for completion in 2022, currently at 47 per cent completion.

About 85 per cent of the project funding was sourced from the Export-Import (EXIM) Bank of China, while the federal government of Nigeria is responsible for 15 per cent balance as counterpart funding.