By Matthew Ogune, Abuja
FACILITATORS at a two day stakeholders meeting convened by the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs have singled out Ughelli, Pantani, Elele, Eket in Delta, Rivers and Akwa-Ibom states as the most important section of the East-West road that requires urgent attention.
The meeting was held in Warri, Delta State.
According to them the call became imperative due to increased maintenance cost as well as loss of revenue to the Government.
Other reasons according to the stakeholders were: traffic jams and clogs, damage to road, disruption of economic activities, insecurity and trauma.
Niger Delta Ministry, Director Urban Development Town planner, Olufemi Oloruntola in his presentation on complementary programmes for East-West Road said the objective of the gathering was to heighten their resolve for action and lay the foundation for the consensus among stakeholders.
According to him “the East West road is a highway that carries heavy traffic which includes volatile and dangerous cargos and required urgent attention
Oloruntola said that the complementary programmes are proposed to protect the corridor and guarantee its Return On Investment on a long-lasting basis.
His words: “The idea is for the ministry to take proactive steps early to establish approved access and exit points in conjunction with the relevant state and local authorities, especially the Local Planning Authorities along the corridor.
“Their respective physical plans will integrate into these points. The essence is to implement mitigation actions to control and manage access and provide for seamless influx and exit of traffic at agreed, designated and approved locations only and thus eliminate corridor clogs.”
In his contribution titled “Highway Development and Evolution in Nigeria: Past and Contemporary Vision, the Deputy Director Urban and Regional Development, Federal Ministry of Works and Housing, Lanu Olalekan said that road transportation constitutes one of the major features of the economic development of Nigeria, adding that the road chosen at the inception of the road development were inter-regional from North-South and East-West connecting commodity production centres with Railways Stations and the Ports.
Olalekan further stated that the roads were primarily built in Nigeria to feed the railways and be complementary to them.
However, roads eventually took over from the railways as the country’s road network improved and captured more and more traffic from railways especially after independence in 1960. He added.
The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio in his remark said that the benefit of the huge investment on the construction of the East-West road may not translate to lasting returns unless proper management structures are put in place to guarantee that all parties play their roles effectively.
Represented by the Director of Housing and Urban Development, Engr. Okereafor Patrick, the Minister noted that the federal government was pushing hard for the completion of the East-West road.
The Minister said that the sole purpose of the meeting was to enrich and ensure the collective appreciation of the task ahead and to have firsthand knowledge of the entire corridor which spans a total length of about 361Km across five States of Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers, Akwa Ibom and Cross River.
Akpabio explained that the Road Corridor is presently a dual carriageway with a total of four lanes, adding that at the end of the technical meeting and the tour which will last two days with a wrap-up in Uyo, the attendees will appreciate the essence of the road tour.
His words: “I am certain that we shall all be clear and lucid about the content of our collective task, the challenges and the importance of our commitment to this cause.”
He urged all stakeholders to gear up and demonstrate commitment towards the completion of the road and commended the Delta State Government for assisting in the organization of the meeting.
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