African Development Bank (AfDB) has promised to release about $100 million before the end of 2019, towards the reconstruction of Port Harcourt Road, Aba, and control of erosion on Ngwa Road axis of the commercial city, Governor Okezie Ikpeazu says.
Ikpeazu, in an interaction with the Aba business community, at the Aba Sports Club, explains that the intervention will stop flooding in Urata, Cemetery, Ohanku and Igbere of Ngwa Road.
Abia State is to access $200 million grant from the AfDB to rehabilitate Port Harcourt Road and check erosion in the Aba city centre.
The AfDB delegation, led by Mwila Aeron Katambula, a transport specialist with the bank, was in Abia State recently for the final lap of talks between it and the state government on some developmental projects of interest to the bank in the state.
Ikpeazu states that providing road infrastructure in Aba is important to the state, noting that apart from being the commercial hub of Abia, Aba is the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) centre of Nigeria.
He states that road infrastructure, waste and storm water managements are the challenges faced in Aba, the state does not have the resources to do good work at Port Harcourt and Ikot Ekpene roads.
The visit of the AfDB to the state has rekindled the hope of residents and other patrons to Aba that help will come soon and the roads would be rehabilitated, he said.
According to Ikpeazu, “We have tried to do what is required of us in terms of ensuring that the ground work is done to enable AfDB come in.”
He also explains that the new Port Harcourt Road, a six-lane expressway, will have a dedicated BRT lane from end to end and street lights, which is aimed at extending trade time in the area.
The contract was awarded to Setraco Construction Company/Heartland Construction Company and would be completed in 18 months.
The historic road is expected to open up Aba and improve the state’s internally generated revenue, as businesses at that part of the commercial city would be revived.
Eziuche Ubani, commissioner for works, Abia State, reiterates the importance of Port Harcourt Road to the soul of Aba, as the six-kilometre road hosts automobile technicians, foundry industries, as well as the Orie Ohabiam Electronics Market.
He observes that entrepreneurs in that business corridor have not been doing much due to the bad nature of the road.
He explains further that the new Port Harcourt Road, which would take about 18 months to complete, is going to be a six-lane express road with a dedicated bus rapid transit route, so that people can easily board buses from Ala Oji end of the road to Aba park.
“It is also going to have drainage channel from beginning to end, because the state government has found a way to discharge storm water to the Aba River.
“The entire road is also going to have street lights, because it is the governor’s plan to extend trading time in Aba, because of its commercial nature.
“So, if we are able to provide lighting, then we can extend business time till about 9.00pm. We have decided to get into strategic roads and this is the major one. Port Harcourt is close to Aba and the city has two power plants, one an independent power plant dedicated solely to Aba and another to contribute to the national grid and these were geared towards boosting industrial activities in the area,” he says.
He however notes that the only thing that has stifled business activities in the area was bad road and that the governor has found a way to recreate it.