Akpabio seeks inclusion of East-West Road in Sukuk to speed completion
• Decries poor budgetary provision
The Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs has proposed an extra-budgetary intervention for inclusion of the East-West Road Sections I-IV in the 2021 Sukuk issuance programme of the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning and the Debt Management Office (DMO).
Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, who disclosed this in Abuja, yesterday, noted that the project has attained an average completion rate of 78.40 per cent, inclusive of the new section IIIA – Eleme Junction to Onne Junction and the Eket Bypass, against claims by stakeholders in the region that he lied to President Muhammadu Buhari that the project was 90 per cent completed.
According to Akpabio, the move for SUKUK intervention was part of efforts by the ministry to access adequate funding for completion of the East-West Road project.
He said appeals for extra-budgetary funding intervention for the project were yielding fruits as the minister of finance has directed the DMO to include the project in the SUKUK issuance of 2021.
Akpabio noted that due to poor yearly budgetary provisions, the contract for upgrading of Section IIIA awarded in 2014 could not commence until the ministry paid the contractors full mobilisation advance in 2020.
He regretted that the condition of the road deteriorated as a result of the delay and that there had been serious encroachment on the right-of-way initially delineated for the road.
“These encroachments, leading to right-of-way constraints, especially at Onne Junction, by the Power Substation belonging to Niger Delta Power Holdings, necessitated a change in intercession design from interchange to flyover bridge with roundabout, which has to be applied to Refinery Junction and Akpajo Junction also redesigned to have a flyover bridge to ease traffic flow.”
He disclosed the ministry’s resolve to adopt the engineer’s professional advice to strengthen the pavement with additional load-bearing layers and reconstruct the two Aleto bridges with longer span and river realignment/bank protection works. He said these were all additional scope of works for the contract required to achieve desired durability and functionality for the industrial need of the corridor.
Akpabio said it was in pursuance of the ministry’s objective to ensure completion of the project that it stepped down 345 projects and committed N10 billion in the current 2022 budget.
He added that the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) also made provision of 10 billion in the 2020 budget and another N25 billion in the 2021 budget to impact positively on the progress of work on the East-West Road.
He urged Ogoni youths, relevant stakeholders and Niger Deltans to exercise patience, stressing that the ministry is committed to bringing succour to people in the region.