*R-L: Akpabio, Fashola *
Minister, Niger Delta Affairs Ministry, Senator Godswill Akpabio, on Wednesday formally handed over the East-West Road, Sections 1-4 to the Minister of Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Raji Fashola SAN, declaring to that he was happy to handover the road project at over 80 Percent completion level.
The handing over ceremony which took place at the Minister’s Conference Room, Federal Ministry of Works and Housing, Abuja, was witnessed by key ministry officials from both ministries, which include, the Minister of State, Works and Housing, Muazu Jaji Sambo, Permanent Secretary Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs and his Works counterpart, Dr Ardo Babayo and Engineer Chukwunwike Uzor, respectively, as well as the Chief of Staff to the Niger Delta Minister, Sir Etekamba Umoren among others. A statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Jackson Udom, quoted the Minister as saying, ” 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 mobilised 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 Muhamadu Buhari”.
“We are also handing-over the N10.4bn Sukuk Cheque 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 brief remarks, the Works and Housing Minister, Babatunde Fashola, described the handing over as uncommon, saying,” this an uncommon handover from an uncommon Minister. We have just received the handing over documents. I will undertake actual verification and assessment of what is on ground.”
The former Lagos State helmsman, however, sounded a note of warning to the people of Niger Delta that work on the road will not progress in the absence of peace and cooperation. He also promised that work would commence, as soon as it is practicable to do so, saying, “we will start work as soon as it is practicable to do so. One condition is that, for any project to take place, there is the need for communal peace. Without peace we will not do any work there. We need collaboration and sacrifice for us to do what we are supposed to do.”