…as Ministry awaits N10.4b to complete the project
By Fortune Eromosele, Abuja
Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, has said since his inception in office as the Minister, he has been able to scale up completion of the east-west road construction from 8 per cent to 80 per cent.
Akpabio disclosed this at the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs handover/update on the east-west road section i – iv construction to the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing in Abuja.
According to Akpabio, the 80 per cent completion of the road, covers sections i – iv, noting that the Ministry awaits the payment of N10.4 billion, which he said will be handled by the Ministry of Works and Housing.
He said, “The Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs took over the construction of the east-west roads in 2009 from the then Ministry of Works at about 8 per cent. The road was awarded in 2006 by the then President, Olusegun Obasanjo. The road is about 338 kilometres in length and starts from Effurun in Warri and ends up in Oron, Akwa Ibom state.
“As at the time I came into office and took over in August 2019 we were able to scale up the completion of the construction of the road from 8 per cent to 80 per cent.
“The sum of 10.4 billion is awaiting release to the Niger Delta, but I have directed that it should be paid to the east-west road account that will be controlled by the Ministry of Works. We agreed that we will not touch any part of the money and I also directed that no amount will be removed from the money to upset any old debts, we will ensure we would transfer the N10.4 billion as it is.”
He further addressed the issue of the 18-kilometre road from Eleme junction to Port Harcourt, saying that the section was not part of the contracts awarded in 2006 and no money was released, but he noted that with the takeover by the Ministry of Works, work will continue, also noting that it accounts for the remaining 20 per cent of the completion of the east-west road.
“Section 0 -15 which starts from Eleme junction to Port Harcourt is about 18 kilometres, this is the section that affects the people of Ogoni directly. That section was not part of the original contract in 2006. Because at that time the section was already dualised into functional bridges.
“But because of wear and tear as of 2018, they noticed cracks in one of the bridges and the road had suffered depreciation and then the Federal Executive Council awarded a new contact for the reconstruction of the 18-kilometre road.
“However no money was released, but from the money, the federal government released to us in 2019, by 2020 we mobilised RCC construction company to begin that section with N4.9 billion, we became worried but they came back to us that there were some impediments on the road and it needed a redesign. It is this section we will focus on and I am positive the Ministry of Works and Housing will see to this,” he stated.
Also speaking, Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, SAN, said his team of engineers will continue to work with the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs to ensure effective and speedy work.
He warned communities around the east-west roads like the Ogoni to live in communal peace, stressing that the federal government can’t do much if there is no cooperation and collaboration from the communities.