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President pledges to pay outstanding N5b on road project



President Goodluck Jonathan after inspecting the Abuja Light Rail project ,..yesterday PHOTO: PHILIP OJISUA

Seeks sustenance of FCT rail programme 

PRESIDENT Goodluck Jonathan yesterday promised that his administration would make frantic efforts to pay the N5 billion outstanding debts owed Julius Berger Plc to ensure that the construction and dualisation of Abuja Airport Road is completed before leaving office on May 29.

President Jonathan, who made the pledge yesterday while inspecting the N108 billion project awarded by the Umaru Musa Yar’Adua administration in 2009, expressed satisfaction with the job progression put at over 90 per cent by the FCT Minister, Senator Bala Mohammed.

Also, President Jonathan has urged his successor, Maj-Gen. Muhammadu Buhari to continue the several rail projects initiated by his administration.

The President stated his when he took a ride in the ongoing Abuja Mass Transit Light Rail project to personally assess the extent of its implementation.

Jonathan who also inspected the Abuja, Kubwa, Zuba Expressway, assured that his administration would make money available for the completion of the job, promising that the in-coming administration would not abandon the projects.

He said: “This project is the kind that all my colleague-Heads of State always appreciate whenever they visit Abuja, many of them even say that one may not recognise the city again because the project has changed the face of the city. So, we will make sure that the balance is paid before I leave office in May 29.

I am already discussing with the Minister of Finance in this regard. This is what we also planned for the Lagos Expressway but I think the coming government will have to complete that.’’

The President used the occasion to congratulate Julius Berger Plc and the Ministry of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) for a job well done. In his presentation, the representative of the construction giant and Divisional Manager, JBN Abuja Division, Mr. Hartmut Warnecke, said:

‘’The Lord 1 of the project, which is 13 kilometres and put at a cost of N59 billion, involved the construction of 21 bridges with concrete lined channels and precast U-Channels while the Lord 2 of 12.5 kilometres put at a cost of N49 billion comprises the construction of two new service roads with two lanes each as well as the rehabilitation of two existing main carriage ways and expansion from two to three lanes each making a total of 10 lanes of both service and main carriage ways.’ ’

According to the representative of the contractor, the dualisation contract, which was awarded by the FCT administration in 2009, has seen the completion of the first lot which started from the city gate to Lugbe cut out, while the second lot which began from the Lugbe cut out to Bill Clinton Drive that leads to the Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport will be completed as soon as the outstanding debt is paid by the government.

Also, Bala Mohammed, who expressed gratitude to the Federal Government for the construction of the road, said: “the construction of this road created employment for the people here.

It has also reduced the time for travelling from the Airport to the City Centre and the social importance of this project cannot be quantified.” Jonathan further noted that the Light Rail project was important for Nigerians particularly Abuja residents and therefore dismissed fears that it could be abandoned by the incoming administration.

He said he had personally inspected the level of progress on the project in order to know what exactly to tell Buhari when both of them discuss later.

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