…wants constituents to remove structures, crops within right of way
…lawmaker hails move
By Levinus Nwabughiogu-Abuja
Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, SAN, has assured that the dilapidated Umuahia-Ikwuano-Ikot Ekpene road will be given a facelift soon.
The Minister said that the project has been approved for funding by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corperation, NNPC through the Road Tax Credit Scheme.
In a letter dated November November 24, 2021 with Ref No: WR.15136/142 written by the Director, Highways Construction & Rehabilitation, Engr. F. B. Esan on behalf of Fashola addressed to the member, representing Ikwuano/Umuahia federal constituency of Abia State in the House of Representatives, Hon. Sam Onuigbo, the Minister urged the lawmaker to prevail on his constituents for the removal of all structures and crops within the right of way.
The letter which was made available to Vanguard in Abuja was however in response to the many appeals of the lawmaker to the minister for his intervention on the deplorable federal government road running through Abia to Akwa Ibom States.
Titled “Re: Umuahia-Ikwuano-Ikot Ekpene Federal Roads: Need for Urgent Action”, the letter read thus: “I would like to refer to your letter dated 27th September, 2021 on the above subject matter.
“The Ministry commends your efforts and commitment to see that your constituency enjoys the infrastructural drive embarked upon by the present Administration.
“However, you may wish to note that the contractor has not totally abandoned the project site. The Federal Controller of Works, Abia State reported that the contractor is hampered by insufficient funds leading to a reduction in activities on the site.
“As you may be aware, the project has been approved for funding by the NNPC through the Road Tax Credit Scheme. This is expected to address the funding challenges on the project and ensure timely completion. You may also address your constituents to remove all structures and crops within the Right of Way (RoW) to enable the contractor have unimpeded access to execute the reconstruction of the road.
“Please accept the assurance of my best wishes”.
Giving a background to the project, Hon. Onuigbo underscored the importance of the road, expressing his profound appreciation to President Muhammadu Buhari and Fashola.
“This has been on since 2016. To be precise, I held the first meeting with the minister on June 14, 2016 to convey to him the terrible, deplorable state of the road from Umuahia to Ikwuano to Ikot Ekpene which is a federal road.
And to be fair with the minister, after my presentation which was supported by pictorial evidence, he agreed right there that the road had indeed collapsed. And consequently, he approved that FERMA should immediately intervene to do palliative work to allow trucks to pass. Trucks could not pass by then. They used to form kilometers of trucks. Any truck that tried to pass got stuck.
“So, he got that approved. So, from that June up until December, the job was awarded by FERMA. The contractor came and we did the flag off on December, 15, 2016. So, between then and sometimes in April June of 2017, the road was fixed and it became motorable. That was the failed section of the road.
“But in the letter that the minister gave to me, he commended me for having the interest of my constituency at heart. He did not stop there. He further promised that I should take the letter as a commitment of the federal government to really fix that road because it is a very important, major economic artery that is used for conveying goods from Calabar port, export processing zone, prospecting an oil serving equippment covering some sections of the Niger Delta.
“You know through Abia to Cross River to Rivers; Abia to Akwa Ibom to Cross River and even up to the Cameroons. So, it’s a major road. So, the minister made that promise on behalf of the federal government.
“So, I want to thank the minister, Babatunde Fashola, SAN, and also the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari for being able to focus on infrastructural renewal.
“The road was eventually awarded on 2019 but due to paucity of funds, they could not go ahead with the construction. So, it affected the speed with which the contractors were handling the job and when we now brought that to the attention of the federal government through the office of the minister, I want to say that they graciously now included the Umuahia-Ikwuano-Ikot Ekpene federal roads amongst the roads to be funded through the tax credit by NNPC. That’s where we are now.
“And I want to also say that given our sustained efforts over the years, the minister wrote another letter acknowledging these efforts, commending me for the tireless efforts to ensure that my constituents benefit from the infrastructural drive of this administration”, Onuigbo said.