…Says, days of mediocrity are over
…Flags-off reconstruction of Port Harcourt Road
Governor Alex Otti of Abia State has urged indigenes and residents to be optimistic and expectant of a better future under the government of Labour Party (LP).
The governor made the call as the people, particularly, residents of Aba, the commercial hub of the state, Thursday, trooped out to support him, as he flagged off the reconstruction of Port Harcourt Road, abandoned by past administrations in the state.
Addressing the people, Otti recalled that Sam Mbakwe, governor of Old Imo State, constructed Port Harcourt Road to feed into the expansion of the booming oil industrial complex in Port Harcourt.
“Mbakwe’s vision gained a foothold almost immediately, as this stretch of road became a major hub for the servicing of heavy-duty vehicles, equipment, spare parts, power generating sets and ancillary tools.
In no time, this axis emerged as one of the busiest parts of Aba and a go-to destination for maintenance engineers, procurement officers and contractors working for the multinationals in Port Harcourt and environs, bringing immediate prosperity and a host of other economic and social advantages to the city of Aba.
For about two decades, it was all bliss and blush for businesses around this area, until things began to fall apart in the mid-to-late 1990s, followed quickly by the unfortunate collapse and abandonment of the 2000s.
Nothing seemed to work thereafter. In time, the businesses, including those that had their corporate headquarters around the corridor began to disappear, finding more favourable locations as it became clear that succeeding administrations did not have the will to make the right commitments to restore this stretch of road and sustain its economic advantages; until Thursday, October 12, 2023 that Governor Otti took the bull by the horns to reconstruct the road and restore businesses and livelihoods of the people, who live and do businesses in the area.
Otti in a speech titled ‘Building on the solid rock of excellence,’ promised that the present Labour Party government in Abia State, which was elected with the overwhelming support of the majority, was poised to reset the tone of governance in the state for good.
He said that his administration’s commitment to creating an enabling environment for businesses to thrive, through unprecedented investments in infrastructure, is principally aimed at driving job creation and poverty elimination, which are critical to the state’s general development agenda.
This is as he promised that his team would be providing regular updates on the progress of work on the road, even as they continue to strategise to rebuild the entire infrastructure landscape of the entire Aba, to accommodate the scope of their vision.
The governor, while announcing that the project has a delivery timeline not exceeding 18 months, however, noted that the state government’s expectation was that whatever needsed to be done to meet the target, would be done, including working round the clock.
He explained that the state government had set up a robust financing structure to see that it completes the payment on schedule, to eliminate any setbacks arising from payment delays.
He appealed to the residents of Aba, especially those residing or doing business in the corridor, to offer the contractor and its team all the support they need to be able to deliver the project within the agreed timeline.
According to him, there will be several moments of inconveniences and those living around the construction corridor may see periodic disruptions in their regular activities.
“I’m glad that we are taking yet another strategic step in fulfilling one of my major campaign promises which is to permanently break the jinx of Port Harcourt Road, Aba, and revive the long-abandoned economic activities along this business corridor, activities that once gave Aba a set of peculiar advantages, starting from the early 1980s.
“Perhaps, I should go on and announce that I am partly fulfilled that we have reached another milestone in what had been a very long process which started immediately after my victory was announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), on the 22nd of March 2023.
“Recall that on April 27, this year, I led representatives of Julius Berger on an inspection tour of this very road to get a general overview of the scope of work to be done and other fundamental details that would guide the technical designs and specifications.
“We also had to invite other construction companies to have a look-in and send us their reports. To be clear, we were careful not to repeat the errors and misjudgments of the past for which the state wasted billions of taxpayers’ money without any measurable improvements in the condition of the road for more than 20 years.
“For us, it is either we reconstruct Port Harcourt Road and do it well or we don’t do it at all. Remember that during my several stops in this great city during the electioneering campaigns, I made one thing very clear: we shall only go for the best because you deserve no less.
“With the above covenant in mind, we resisted the temptation to start another trial and error on a road as important as this and decided to accept the engineering design and bid presented to us by possibly the most reputable civil engineering company in Nigeria with more than 50 years of operational experience and several landmark projects in all parts of the country to its name, Julius Berger Plc.
“For us, Port Harcourt Road Aba is not just any other project, it will be a testament of our willingness and determination to ‘rebuild ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated’ as contained in Isaiah 61: 4.
“I would refuse to be drawn into the tragedies and heartbreaks that attended previous attempts at fixing this 6.7km stretch of road, but would rather invite you to look to the future with great optimism and expectations, certain that the days of mediocrity are over. We are here to rebuild, and this flag off exercise is a definite confirmation that Aba’s days of glory are about to be restored,” he said.
According to him, “For the purpose of clarity, we are not just talking about pouring asphalt or doing any haphazard job just for cheap political capital. We have brought Julius Berger here for some well-defined reasons: to do a holistic job of fixing the road, addressing the age-long flooding problems especially at notoriously problematic points using appropriate technology and expertise; and ultimately see to it that with very minimal maintenance at regular intervals, this road shall continue to support the existing, new and returning businesses and their activities for at the very least, another twenty years, post-commissioning.
“My team members and I, including the State Commissioner for Works and many senior engineering staff of the ministry, worked closely with the team from Julius Berger to ensure that the technical design and specifications adopted answered all the important questions regarding durability, reliability, flood control and other critical parameters.”
He also said that the expectation of the state government was that on completion that the reconstructed Port Harcourt Road would drive the economic rejuvenation of Aba and send a clear message to the businesses that had left that the “Elephant is back on its feet, never to stumble again.”
He said: “It shall not be long and you will see the evidence that if the right structures are in place, as I had long emphasised, one does not need to travel round the globe looking for investors, because the investors themselves have their independent antennas at alert all the time, picking out signals on the right investment destinations.
“I can tell you that in the next 12 months, the economic prospects and opportunities in Aba will be too attractive for any serious investor to ignore,” he stated