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Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Sen. Godswill Akpabio, has appealed to indigenes of host communities at the Eleme and Onne axis of the East-West road in Rivers State, to support ongoing efforts of the government aimed at completing the road project as scheduled.

The minister made this call during his meeting with Stakeholders and Management of Reynold Construction Company, RCC in his office, on Thursday in Abuja.

Akpabio noted that the Federal Government has not abandoned the road as being insinuated in some quarters, explaining that the ministry has been working with the construction company in charge of the road project and has gotten an assurance that the 338KM project will be delivered by 2022.

“The road, particularly the Eleme Junction and the Onne Port junction area is in a deplorable state, noting that the road when it was first awarded in 2006, was still in very good shape and was therefore excluded from the original contract, however, 15 years after that section has gone bad.

“We have had some apotheosis that has come up within the road corridor, which was not in the original plan, for instance, the Ministry of Power has built a major power Sub-Station by the Eleme junction, and a lot of other structures have also come on board while a section of the bridge at Aleto also collapsed due to erosion at the embayment of the bridge and due to these unforeseen circumstances a section of the road was to be redesigned to preserve the sub-station which is germane to the sustenance of economic activities within the region,” he noted.

He added that the government has released N2.5bn to RCC as part of outstanding payment and also made available N1.17bn to enable the payment of compensation to property owners affected in the road construction.

The minister further disclosed that due to the volume of traffic on the road, it has become imperative that the road be expanded to six lanes, with additional flyovers. These, according to him, were not captured in the initial contract and design.

In the aspect of funding, Akpabio hinted that the ministry had to suspend funding over 300 projects to enable it to cater for the East-West road, adding that the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, has also budgeted N35bn towards the completion of the road, while the Ministry of Finance has also earmarked funds to be committed to the same project.

Earlier, the Managing Director of RCC, Engr. Nader Yusuf noted that the main issue in the Eleme Junction is in the delay of compensation to the indigenes that have properties on that axis of the road. He advised that once relevant funds are made available, payment of compensation would commence immediately.

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