• Wednesday, May 22, 2024
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BusinessDay

FG orders contractors on East West road to return to site

Kano to spend N2.3bn on construction of access road to Dala Inland Port

The Federal Government has ordered the contractors handling the construction of the East – West road sections 1 to 4 to return to site within the next one week for a speedy completion of the project.

Godswill Akpabio, minister of Niger Delta Affairs, handed down the order at a tripartite meeting with officials of the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA), managers of the Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund and contractors handling the construction of the roads.

According to Akpabio, the Federal Government through the NSIA had concluded arrangement for the release of about N20 billion to the contractors if they mobilise to site within the next one week.

In a statement signed by the minister’s press secretary, Akpabio recalled that the contract for the East – West road was first awarded in 2006, and scheduled for completion in 2010, but suffered some setbacks because of funding constraints.

He stated that by the time the project was transferred to the newly created Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs in 2008, the percentage of work done was negligible.

Attempts had also been made in the past to fund the road project through the African Development Bank and the Sure-P Programme but it has remained uncompleted.

He said during the present administration of President Muhammadu Buhari in 2018, the project funding was transferred to the Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund warehoused in the NSIA to ensure adequate funding.

Akpabio said the tripartite meeting was because of President Buhari’s avowed determination to complete the East- West road, saying he had held several meetings with the NSIA and visited the project sites to assess the progress of work.

“As at today, the Federal Government is concerned that the progress of work on the East-West road is very slow, if not totally non-existent. The people of the Niger Delta region are also very agitated. And I’m sure the contractors are also worried,” he said.

According to Akpabio, “For me, a contract that was awarded in 2006 and which ought to have been completed in 2010 and 14 years later some sections have not been completed, calls for concern being a very important road not only to the people of the Niger Delta, but Nigeria as a whole, hence this meeting.

“I have held several meetings with the NSIA and it looked like there were some grey areas which we have worked on so that the East-West road can be completed, not just for the people of the Niger Delta, but also to make sure the Presidential pronouncement comes to pass because President Buhari has shown so much interest in the completion of the road.

“So, we have met and have resolved all issues that tended to negate the speedy completion of the project. Today, we came to meet with the contractors to ensure their commitment to complete the East-West road on time.

“We also assessed the issue of funding. The NSIA has made a commitment that if the contractors return to site within one week they will make available about N20 billion to offset outstanding payment certificates. We will soon sign the tripartite agreement.”

The minister, who described the East-West road as very dear to the people of the Niger Delta and Nigeria as a whole, thanked the NSIA for their cooperation in seeing the project through. He assured the people of the Niger Delta of the renewed efforts in seeing to the completion of the project and said he would personally visit the project sites again to evaluate the job done.

Uche Orji, managing director/CEO of the NSIA, commended Akpabio for his commitment to the completion of the project and said the East-West road was among the projects that were to be funded by the NSIA manager of the Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund.

He said the NSIA would independently verify the claim of contractors before the release of more funds to them.