PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari has approved the release of N19.67 billion for the completion of sections I-IV of the East-West Road project by 2021, a move designed to address the infrastructure deficit in the Niger Delta and boost the economy of the region.
Godswill Akpabio, the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, revealed this after a meeting with contractors handling different segment of the road project.
He stated that the road project which was conceived in 2006 by the Obasanjo administration, ought to have been completed in 2010 but for the paucity of funds.
The minister said in April 2009, the project was transferred to the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs to speed its completion.
Akpabio said despite the chequered history of the project, it could not be realised due to inflexible terms prescribed by financial institutions which may not require less than N102 billion for its completion.
According to him, the presidential directive mandated that the project should be completed by 2021.
“The project, which starts from the Delta Steel Company Roundabout in Delta State, transverses through Kaiama in Bayelsa State, goes through Ahoada in Port Harcourt in Rivers State, down to Eket and from Eket to Oron in Akwa Ibom State, is to complete the Section I-IV being part of the two sections that had previously been completed. Section–V, which covers 23km from Oron to Calabar, is still under process,” he said.
“Considering the disposition of the region to the stability of Nigeria’s economy, the project will not only redress infrastructural deficit in the region, but its completion would also assist the oil industry in terms of moving goods that will facilitate oil production, movement within the area, restiveness and boast the economic life of the people and the nation at large.”
The Buhari administration, he said, had undertaken more infrastructural development projects than any other government, adding that the East-West road would be one of the legacy projects of this administration.
He thanked the contractors for being committed to ensuring that the presidential mandate is achieved by re-mobilising back to site even when funds have not been made available and assured them of the people’s cooperation.
The contractors thanked Akpabio for giving them the opportunity to work with the ministry and reiterated their readiness to return to the site immediately to meet the 2021 completion target.
Amos Abba is a journalist with the International Center for Investigative Reporting, ICIR, who believes that courageous investigative reporting is the key to social justice and accountability in the society.