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Government earmarks N20b for East-West highway, recommits to Niger Delta development

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The Federal Government has earmarked about N20 billion for the completion of sections one to four of the East-West Road awarded to contractors 14 years ago.

The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, who disclosed this in Abuja during a meeting with stakeholders on the need to fast-track funding of the highway, insisted that payment of contractors would be determined by the quality of work.

He said: “Deploy your equipment back to site and resume work immediately because we are going to pay according to work done. We expect quality work, not just cutting corners because I receive petitions from the people of Niger Delta over the slow pace of work everyday.”

According to the minister, “the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA), managers of the Presidential Infrastructure Developmental Fund (PIDF), has agreed to commit to the funding to facilitate the completion of the road.”

He added that the NSIA, the ministry and the contractors would sign a tripartite agreement to ensure that things were rightly to avoid cutting corners.

The Ministry of Finance had disbursed N11 billion while the ministry also released about N977 million totalling N12 billion for the project.

He disclosed that N5.121 billion was still owed contractors.

Akpabio continued: “Before the NSIA took over the PIDF, the Federal Government had approved about N19.6 billion to be provided for the East-West Road in 2018, out of which about 17.1 billion was already owed to contractors. Whatever was left would have been transferred to the NSIA for continued progress on the road.

“The contract for the East-West Road was first awarded in 2006 to four major contractors and divided into four sections and was scheduled for completion by the end of 2010 but because of funding constraints, the target was not achieved.”

He further said: “The physical progress of the project before it was transferred to the Ministry of Niger Delta in terms of the percentage of work done was eight per cent but the commitment of the government and additional funding between 2012 and 2015 led to the completion of sections 1 and 3.”

Meanwhile, government yesterday said it had given road infrastructure priority attention and ensured even distribution of resources across the six geopolitical zones for rapid socio-economic development of the country.

Addressing newsmen in Benin City after inspecting federal road projects including the Benin- Auchi-Okene highway, chairman of the Senate Committee on Works, Muhammadu Adamu Aliero, charged the concerned contractors on speedy completion of the projects.

He said the Benin Auchi-Okene highway was key owing to its strategic position, assuring the people that government was committed to providing adequate funds for their completion in good time.


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