The Federal Government has expressed its commitment to complete the East West Road, adding that the 2018 Budget for the Project would be well funded.
While appealing to the contractors handling Sections one to four of the East West Road to go back to site in Abuja on Monday, the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Pastor Usani Uguru Usani said, “We have a responsibility to have this project taken to completion and this responsibility has to be demonstrated with both your commitment and our commitment.”
The Minister assured the contractors that the Federal Government had directed that some funds be injected into the Project while sourcing for other means to get funding for the East West Road, so as to fast track its completion.
He declared government’s resolve to pay off some outstanding debts on the road project as a means of revitalizing commitment to the project’s completion.
Usani said: ‘I want to assure you that in the development of the region our commitment will not be slower but be faster and to mobilize you with funds to work as we get releases from the treasury’.
The Minister, who expressed concern over the deplorable state of some sections of the road while it is still under construction, requested the contractors to proffer solutions to the failing parts of the road.
“We are very concerned about the state of this project because any project in the world that spans through one full decade without completion has several setbacks and it means the Project itself is near failure”, the Minister added.
Pastor Uguru reiterated that Government was making progress in the entire Niger Delta Region on infrastructure development, stressing that the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs was also in serious conversations with the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) in addressing the challenges facing the Commission in its contractual obligations.
On the issue of complaints by contractors to the Niger Delta Development Commission, the Minister responded,”What we have done was to channel the complaints of contractors to the management of NDDC. As much as possible, we do not interfere with the administrative and micro-management of the agency. What we do is to ensure that we guide them along the lines of government policies with emphasis on the development in the region.”
In his remarks, the Acting Managing Director of Setraco Nigeria Limited Dr. Ray Chaudhuri called on government to ensure that the appropriate agencies responsible for road maintenance takes proper care of the completed sections of the East West Road. He added that contractors were eager to complete the project if government could make good promise to fund it properly.
Also, Engineer Chukrudu Sebatine of Gitto Construction Company revealed that the last fund received by his company was in October, 2016. He added that once fund was released, the remaining part of the Section Four being handled by Gitto would be completed before the end of March, 2018.
Construction Companies at the meeting were Setraco Nigeria Limited, Gitto Nigeria Limited and Reynolds Construction Company Nigeria Limited (RCC).
At the meeting, it was discovered that the sum of N 2.2 billion meant for compensation on section four of the road at Eket in Akwa Ibom State had been expended on the road.
The Minister directed that the said amount of money be returned to the Ministry for transparency and accountability.