By Isaac Anumihe,
President Muhammadu Buhari has directed the Ministry of Works and Housing to take over the construction and completion of the N10.4 billion East-West Road project which had been delayed for several years.
While taking responsibility for the road, Minister of Works and Housing Mr Babatunde Fashola said that a directive is an uncommon act because it is the decision of the Federal Government of Nigeria that the project that was started by the Ministry of Works be transferred to the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs and 13 years after, the president directed that the project be handed back to the Ministry of Works and Housing for completion.
Fashola, however, pleaded for peace in the communities to enable him to deliver the project on time.
‘One condition for any project to take place is communal peace. If we don’t have peace there, we cannot do anything,’ he said.
While appealing for peace, collaboration and sacrifice from the communities, Fashola also urged representatives of the various communities at the event to take the message back home that peace is needed to deliver the project.
On the progress of work done he said: ‘Progress has been made from 2009 till date no doubt but unfortunately that progress is not reported because of the passion with which the uncompleted part has been reported.’
Fashola directed the director overseeing the Office of the Permanent Secretary in his Ministry, Engineer Chukwunwike Ogbonna Uzo to constitute a requisite team from the ministry to undertake an actual assessment with the contractors so that the ministry will be able to sign off on the proper engineering and civil construction terms at the point the ministry is taking over, adding that the president will be briefed on the progress of work done so far.
Earlier, the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, said that in order to fast-track the completion of the project, the people of Ogoniland demanded that the project be supervised by the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing which has much more experienced professionals in terms of engineering services.
In a statement, Akpabio explained that the project was awarded in 2006 by the administration of President Olusegun Obasanjo and that as of 2022, Sections 1-4 of the project is 80 per cent completed.
‘As we hand over the East-West road to you today, about 80 per cent of the project has been completed and the situation today is that it is easy to drive from Port Harcourt to Yenagoa in under 50 minutes,’ he said.
On the length of the road, he said, it is a 328-kilometre road that starts from Effurun in Delta State and transverses the Niger Delta, Rivers State and ends up in Oron in Akwa-Ibom State, while Section 5 of the road is from Oron to Calabar in Cross River State.
On funding, the minister said that the sum of N10.4 billion was awaiting release and that he has directed that the money be released to the East-West Road Account to be controlled by the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing. (Sun)