….Says FG in talks with States to solve compensation issues
….Urges beneficiaries to embrace dialogue
By Chris Ochayi
The Federal Government said it has secured loan from the China EXIM Bank to fund the execution of the ongoing Dualization of the 221 kilometres Keffi – Akwanga-Lafia – Makurdi highway project.
The Minister of Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, who disclosed this during the inspection tour of the project, noted that the decision to borrow the fund for the project was taken before the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.
Fashola, however, called on the people affected by the ongoing road construction project in Nasarawa and Benue States to embrace dialogue and peaceful engagements towards resolving issues related to compensation rather than seeking recourse to agitations.
He noted that “Agitations don’t solve problems, it is engagements and collaborations”.
Fashola, who was responding to a question from a journalist on the efforts of the Federal Government to compensate those affected by the project along the road said that the Federal government was closely working with the Benue and Nasarawa States to resolve the issues.
He pointed out that the Federal Government was making a deliberate and careful effort to ensure that the real beneficiaries get the compensation and not middlemen.
Explaining further, Fashola said that the 221 kilometres Dualization being undertaken includes a 10-lane expansion over five kilometers where Abuja joins Nasarawa state around Mararaba area.
He disclosed that work is yet to begin on the areas that still have issues of resettlement, relocation and compensation until such issues are resolved.
“The decision to borrow this money was taken before our administration. So we just completed the process that has been started, a process that we own because this is money borrowed for investment to improve people’s lives”, he said.
The Minister who was later joined by the Governor of Nasarawa State, Engr. Abdullahi Sule, also inspected the National Housing Programme (NHP) and Federal Secretariat Complex in the state capital, Lafia.
On the economic benefits of the projects, Fashola said, the projects will drive the economy and create jobs for the people, as so many people have been employed directly or indirectly through the infrastructure developments.
“If you see the economy beginning to head towards growth it’s clear that the President’s strategy on Infrastructure as a driver of growth is working “, he said.
Earlier during a courtesy visit to Governor Abdullahi Sule, the Minister appealed to the Governor to establish a park for the trailers in order to protect the roads from being damaged, pointing out that the parking of trailers and the pouring of lubricants; diesel and oil on the roads by the drivers negatively affect the life span of the roads .
In his response, the Governor expressed gratitude to President Muhammadu Buhari and the Minister for their commitment to the development of infrastructure in Nasarawa State.
Governor Sule also told the Minister that the State was already establishing trailer parks across the state to protect the roads from being damaged through indiscriminate parking on the shoulders and to avoid the incidence of such areas becoming criminal hideouts.
He urged the Federal Government to consider working on more roads in the state.
On the Minister’s entourage during the inspection tour were some Directors the State’s Controllers of both Works and Housing of the Ministry and Special Advisers.