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Fashola unveils first of 5 new flyovers in Port Harcourt, commends Wike on urban rebuilding

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The urban renewal scheme going on in Port Harcourt has attracted the commendation of the federal government as the Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashiola, has described what he saw in the Garden City as impressive.

This is as the minister made it clear to the people of the state that Gov Wike was yet to collect the N78.9Bn approved by the FG on refund of federal projects executed by the state in the past.

Fashiola however sent a stunner, revealing how former governor of Rivers State and now Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, pressed hardest amongst the ministers for refund of Rivers funds. The name of Amaechi had been buried in obscurity in the euphoria of approval of the fund.

Gov Wike began construction of flyovers by Julius Berger in October 2019 with initial N21bn for first three to create faster flow of traffic in the state capital. The first to be ready is the Rebisi (Garrison) flyover which the minister of works and housing came to unveil Saturday, November 7, 2020.

The minister, who took a walk on the 969.4 metres-long Rebisi Dual Carriage Flyover Bridge with Gov Wike said such development efforts would promote peace among residents and would bring back tourism to the Garden City.

Fashola, who had earlier visited the Rumuogba, Okoro-Nu-Odu, Rumuola and GRA Junction flyovers, said: “What I witnessed is a massive urban regeneration and urban renewal of Port Harcourt”.

He said Ministers have been mandated to support the developmental initiative and aspiration of every state in the country. This, he said, also informed the initiative to refund money spent on federal roads to States.

According to him, the first tranche of refund was about N577Bn while the second tranche, for which Rivers State is a beneficiary, is N148Bn.

“In the second tranche it was five states. Out of those five states, I think only two were APC states and it was a total of N148billiion and Gov Nyesom Wike and Rivers State got lion share. He got N78Bn approval. Don’t sit here and think he has received N78Bn in cash. The money still has to pass through National Assembly approval”.

“This place use to be known as Garrison, but, clearly as we begin to shed our military toga and our democracy ages and deepens, we will see a rebirth in our unity, our oneness and our shared developmental aspirations” he said.

Speaking, Gov Wike said when the state government flagged off the Rebisi, Okoro-Nu-Odu and Rumuogba flyovers simultaneously in October 2019, many skeptics had questioned the possibility of the State completing the projects within the estimated time frame of 16 months.

He explained that the contractor, Julius Berger, worked assiduously, even during the COVID-19 lockdown, just to ensure that the projects were delivered on time.

“By December, we have to commission Okoro-Nu-Odu flyover. By February, we have to commission Rumuogba and Rumuola; by March-April, we will commission the GRA flyover” he said.

The governor said the flyover bridge by CFC/Corpus Christi bus stop will be expanded to make it the sixth flyover project under construction in the state.

Gov Wike who noted the role played by Fashola in the assessment of the application for the refund also appealed that the new flyover projects should be considered for refund.

The governor frowned at the refusal of traders to obey government’s directive not to display their wares along the roads in order not to inconvenience road users. He said an executive order will be signed by him on Monday to discourage the practice.

He said with such executive order in force, any landlord who allows traders to display wares for sale in front on their buildings will forfeit them to government because they will be acquired for public use.

Rivers State Commissioner for Works, Eloka Tasie-Amadi, said when the Rebisi Flyover Bridge was flagged off on the 24 October 2019 it was to be delivered in 16 months but it has been achieved within 12 months.

He said the project has not only improved the aesthetics of the city, but enhance traffic flow, relief transport time, eradicate traffic conflict at the junction and reduce vehicular damage that bad roads cause.