Huge investments in East-West road a waste without proper management, says Akpabio
Stakeholders identify Ughelli, Patani, Elele, Eket sections for urgent attention
Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, yesterday, said huge investments in the construction of the East-West road might not yield lasting returns unless proper management structures are put in place to ensure that all parties play their roles effectively.
He gave the warning at a stakeholder meeting to evolve an enduring platform for the planning, development, and management of the East-West Road Corridor in Warri, Delta State.
Akpabio, who was represented by the Director of Housing and Urban Development, Okereafor Patrick, noted that the Federal Government was pushing hard to complete the East-West road.
He said that the sole purpose of the meeting was to enrich and ensure the collective appreciation of the task ahead and to have firsthand knowledge of the 361km corridor, across Edo, Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers, Akwa Ibom, and Cross River states.
Akpabio explained that the East-West Road is a dual carriageway with four lanes, adding that at the end of the technical meeting and the tour, which would last two days and end in Uyo, the participants would appreciate the essence of the tour.
Speaking, Secretary to the Delta State Government, Chiedu Ebie, who was represented by the Commissioner for Urban Renewal, Olorogun Arthur Akpowowo, said as one of the focal persons in the counterpart team, he would ensure a smooth and good memory of the state towards the project.
In his presentation on complementary programmes for East-West Road, Director of Urban Development and Town Planning in the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, Olufemi Oloruntola, said the objective of the meeting was to lay the foundation for a consensus among the stakeholders.
He said due to heavy traffic on the road, there had been congestion, damage to the road, disruption of economic activities, insecurity, increased maintenance cost, and loss of revenue to the government, adding that the Ughelli, Patani, Mbiama, Elele, Port Harcourt and Eket sections of the corridor required urgent attention.
Also speaking on Highway Development and Evolution in Nigeria: Past and Contemporary Vision, Deputy Director, Urban, and Regional Development, Federal Ministry of Works and Housing, Lanu Olalekan, pointed out that road transportation was one of the major features of Nigeria’s economic development.
He said the road selected at the inception of the road development was inter-regional from North to South and East to West connecting commodity production centres with railway stations and the nation’s ports, adding that the roads were primarily built to feed the railways and complement them.
Olalekan, however, lamented that roads eventually took over from the railways as the country’s road network improved and captured more traffic from railways, especially after independence in 1960.