By Perpetua Onuegbu
The Minister of Works Sen. David Umahi says that the ministry needs a total of N217bn to reconstruct 260 road projects and eight bridges across the country.
The minister disclosed this while inaugurating four road project committees on Thursday in Abuja.
He said the committees were being inaugurated not just to maintain the road but also to ensure that contractors implement the contracts signed.
The task force committees are to monitor the reconstruction of Benin-Warri Dual Carriageway (Section I, II and III) and dualisation of East-West road Section III:Port Harcourt (ElemeJunction) Oone Port Junction road in Rivers.
“The directors in this ministry met and we agreed to constitute a taskforce that will be resident in these locations for efficient supervision.
“They will redesign the roads to meet the site situations and article two of the contract we signed that under section 51 of General Conditions of contract gives us the permission and legal right to redefine the projects.
“Which means we can rescope the projects and quality, we are leveraging on that to save our people from the hardship. We will use one foot thick concrete to rebuild the road. We are already working on the bills to redefine it,” the minister said.
Umahi said the Federal Government is giving serious attention to the roads between Benin and Warri and the road between Eleme and zonne Port.
“Let me graciously announce that the ministry contacted Mr President on 260 projects that need very immediate and quick intervention across the federation.
“The projects are from the motions of the National Assembly, outcry of the public and compilations from controllers of our states and the total cost is N217 billion.
“We have sent it to Mr President and the National Assembly is aware and he has directed that we submit at FEC for discussions,” he said.
He added that the roads are key factors for the revolution of the nation’s commerce, education, security and power and that President Tinubu is committed to the nation’s road infrastructure.
Still on approval of funds, the former Ebonyi governor said the president had approved funds for the rehabilitation of the Third Mainland Bridge in Lagos.
The minister decried the failures of several parts on the East West Road saying, “Last week, we had a lot of failures on our East West Road between Warri and Cross Rivers.
“We had 12 points that totally collapsed and if we have another flood, the entire section may collapse. Three bridges totally collapsed and we have to reconstruct all of those roads.
“I will also announce that Mr President has not only approved but released money for immediate attention of these 12 points and three bridges that collapsed on our East-West roads between Warri and Cross Rivers.
“Also reconstruction of Shendam-Lafia bridge and Enugu bridge that collapsed a week ago and the president has released money for the reconstruction of those two bridges.
“The projects are being worked upon so that we can allay the fears of our people. These are life-threatening emergencies and we must move very fast to begin on all those roads,” he said.
The minister recalled that his team spent 14 hours traveling from Abuja to Benin “and that wasn’t palatable.” He therefore called for the diversion of the road from Benin city.
“I have spoken to the governor of Edo and we need to divert the highway and that can be done even if it is one lane.
“We also identified four sections between Benin and Warri and the situation is so terrible. We witnessed five kilometres of continuous trucks that parked and we could not find it easy to pass.”
He said the reconstruction has a time line of 18 months, adding that the Nigerian Union Journalists (NUJ) would be part of the monitoring to ensure transparency and good reportage of the projects as part of the new policy of the administration.
“Let me also advise our contractors that no new project under my leadership will be done asphalt. We are doing all our projects on concrete. Let it be known that it is our policy.
“Any contractor that can’t cope, it is not compulsory. On ongoing projects, if you have done 80 per cent, we expect the contractors to complete it without asking for increment.
“All ongoing projects have N6 trillion funding gap and we cannot increase our projects. We will not do any variation of price on asphalt any longer,” he added.
Umahi said no contractor is compelled to continue with their projects saying they have the right to terminate such contracts if no longer convenient for them.
He said that the Nigerian masses deserve sustainability and integrity of the roads constructed for their daily use.(NAN)(www.nannews.ng)
Edited by Julius Toba-Jegede