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The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Sen. Godswill Akpabio, CON, and Babatunde Raji Fashola, SAN, at the handing over of the East- West Road, Section 1-4 to his Works and Housing counterpart at the Minister of Works and Housing, Mabushi, Abuja earlier in the week 

By Ignatius Ushie

The Honourable Minister, Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, Sen. Godswill Akpabio, CON, disclosed that the Federal Government has handed over the completion of the East-West road from Section 1-4 to the Minister of Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola, SAN, to ensure speedy completion of the project and achieve the objectives of President Muhammadu Buhari. In a statement made available to Transport Day in Abuja.

The Minister revealed this during the handing over ceremony held at the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing conference room in Abuja recently.

 According to him, “It is with great pleasure to us today in the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, to handover the Section 1-4 of the East West Road to the Works and Housing Ministry as demanded by the people of Ogoni. I can say that we are handing over this project at over 80 Percent completion level.”

“The people of the region can now travel from Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital to Yenogoa, within minutes and that was not the case before we came into office.

“There were impediments on the road which were not in the original plan. There was therefore, the need to extend the road with a 6 lane layout, hence the issue of compensation arose and we mobilized funds to pay the owners of lands and property on the right of way,” he added.

The former Minority Leader of the Senate, stated further that though the road project has been handed over to the Ministry of Works and Housing, relevant staff of the Niger Delta Ministry would be available to render their support and share experiences with their counterparts in the Works ministry concerning the road, saying,” Our field officers in the Ministry are available for any assistance and information as it concerns the road. We will continue to work together to ensure that the East West Road is completed and commissioned by President Muhammadu Buhari”.

“We are also handing-over the N10.4bn SukukCheque that was given to our Ministry by the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning for the East-West Road to the Ministry of Works and Housing for the commencement of work and not for payment of old debts,” Akpabio stated.

In his response, the Hon. Minister, Federal Ministry of Works and Housing, BabatundeFashola (SAN) recalled that 13 years ago in 2009, it was the decision of the Federal Government

to transfer the  East West Road project (initially handled  by the Ministry of Works) to the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, noting that currently President Buhari has directed that the project  be supervised by the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing.

He, therefore, informed that his counterpart has given him a detailed brief of the progress and challenges of the road project with documents to back it up.

According to him, “I have travelled the entire road once before, I have sense of it’s scope and it’s progress, but of course, after this meeting, our team will work with your team to undertake actual site verifications and inspections, so that we can be able to sign up in the proper engineering terms and civil construction terms, where we took over looks good on books, we must match the books to research.

“I am using this opportunity to ask the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry to immediately mobilise requisite team in the Ministry to undertake actual assessment with the contractors on site in each section of the East West road. After that, a report would be shared with the Minister of MNDA and Mr. President to know the point we took over and progress been recorded” he added.

The former Governor, Lagos State, urged for total communal peace, collaboration and sanity from the various communities.