By Matthew Ogune, Abuja
The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Sen. Godswill Akpabio, has disclosed plans to approach the Federal Executive Council (FEC) for the revalidation and award of contract for Section V of the East-West road.
Akpabio disclosed this yesterday in Abuja during the ‘Round Table Meeting of Counterparts on the Complementary Programme for the East-West road project.
He reiterated the Ministry’s commitment to deliver Section I-IV of the East-West road in line with the present administrations aspiration and see to the award of Section V (Oron-Calabar) after necessary technical reviews.
The section which covers Oron-Calabar according to Akpabio was initially awarded to RCC Construction Company by the FEC, but was later abandoned due to the astronomical cost of the project when it was re-routed.
Explaining the delay in the construction of section V, Akpabio said: “It wasn’t me that delayed, it was the people of Calabar, from the records in the ministry the contract was given for 265million for 23 kilometers, but the plan was altered because of cemetery and people were claiming that the graves of their dead uncles were there.
“So the result of all this was that the price jumped from the initial 265million to 495million how do we handle that, when the federal government is receiving demands from all sections of the country.
“My thinking is that we should go back to the original design which will give us a straight line and when we get to the cemetery some of the grave yard must give way but we will do our best to make sure it passes through the FEC.”
According to the Minister, the target of the Ministry is to deliver completely Sections I-IV of the East West road on or before December 2021.
Akpabio who appreciated the commitment of members of the counterparts’ team noted that these deliverables would not be complete without a varial management support for the road.
“It is not just the road that is important but also the management of the corridor such that it will enable the development of aesthetics and other infrastructures along the road network”, he said.
Speaking further Akpabio said the commitment of the Ministry to the ‘Round Table meeting’ must therefore be complimented by the support of all the counterparts in terms of action to ensure the beauty and sustainability of government efforts and development agencies on the road over the years.
Also speaking, the Permanent Secretary MNDA, Dr. Babayo Ardo said the road traversing 5 states in the region has been under construction since 2006, but the administration of President Buhari has promised to ensure that the road is completed by 2021.
Babayo said that in other to realise this promise, the Ministry is not only pulling resources to ensure that the East-West road is completed but also that the completion and management of the road will top the main item on the agenda at the 4th National Council of Niger Delta slated for 14th -19th December, 2020 in Port Harcourt.
According to the Permanent Secretary, the Round Table meeting is a complementary programme on the road that would be reported at the National Council, because development consist of both the ‘hardware and software’ components to ensure adequate management of the road usage.
Earlier in his welcome address to participants at the “Round Table Meeting of Counterparts on Complementary Programme for the East West Road’, the Director Housing and Urban Development of the Ministry, Engr. Patrick Okereafor, said the meeting is to discuss a draft work plan for 2021, to brief the Minister, Sen. Godswill Akpabio and also issue Advisory note to participants of concerned States.
“I am certain that the meeting today would further reinforce and shape our collective resolve for actions towards planning, preservation, development and management of the road corridor and this resolve would translate to a win-win situation for us, our institutions and the people of the region”, he said.
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