The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godsday Orubebe, has said that N141 billion would be required to complete the East-West Road project in December 2014.
Orubebe disclosed this while speaking with newsmen on Friday in Uyo after the Joint National Assembly Committees on Niger Delta Affairs paid oversight visit to the project sites.
“What is required to complete the road is N141 billion; that is what is expected for us to inject in the project to complete the East-West road. This is a road of over N339 billion and we are looking for N141 billion; once we have that one, we will be able to complete the road very well,” he said.
Orubebe recalled that the contract was awarded in 2006 and would have been completed in 2010. “Nothing reasonable was done till we took over in 2009 when we had to complete the designs and the drawings,” he said.
According to him, the ministry has been working round the clock to see that the project is completed and stressed that due to the funding constraint within the government, the ministry had to request for a loan of N50 billion from the African Development Bank (AfDB).
He said the loan would be ready “anytime from now. When we inject that one into the financial plan, I think that we will be working toward delivering that road,” he said.
Orubebe, who said nobody had control over natural disasters, pointed out¬†that¬†project¬†suffered a setback as all the project areas were flooded.
He stressed the ministry‚Äôs desire to complete and deliver the road to the people of Niger Delta in December 2014.
The Chairman, Senate Committee on Niger Delta Affairs, Sen. James Manager, who led the¬†delegation to the project sites, said however that delivering the road in 2014 would be unrealistic.
According to him, water has taken over major parts of the road, particularly the section from Delta to the beginning of Rivers which is almost inside water.
“Construction cannot take place right now from what we have seen; delivering that road in December 2014 will not be possible; I want to feel that it is not realistic with what is on ground.
“Everybody saw it, we were all on the trip; with what is on ground, for them to do effective job¬†that is good enough for the people of Niger Delta, I think we will be talking about 2015 or the end of 2015.
“That is my feeling; I am not a civil engineer anyway, but from what I saw on ground, December 2015 will be far more realistic than December 2014.
“Funding problem is also there because you don’t expect a contractor, who having worked and generated certificates and certificates and has yet to be paid, to continue to work.
“That is why the funding challenge has been there since the award of contract for the job,‚Äô‚Äô Manager said.
He said he did not want the contractor to do a shoddy job, stressing that “I am for quality job, what is important is to do¬† quality job for¬†the people of Niger Delta.
“This is the road that crosses all the major oil producing states of this great country; the people deserve the very best.”
Warman Ogoriba, the Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Niger Delta Affairs, appealed to the Federal Government to look for alternative source of funding the road project.
“After our inspection visit to the project sites, we have come to the conclusion that the budgetary allocation is not enough if we must complete that road. This road is important to people of Niger Delta and, indeed, all Nigerians ply that road,” Ogoriba said.
The project engineer, handling bridges constructed by Setraco Company, Mr Raed Saliba, said the Patani Bridge in Bayelsa would be completed in December 2014.
Saliba said the contractors had no problem with any community as the people had been ¬†cooperating with them.
He said that the new Okoso Bridge would be completed “in the next few months‚Äô‚Äô.