Contractors will receive increased funding for road construction in southern Nigeria before the advent of the raining season.
The Minister of Works, Power and Housing, Babatunde Fashola gave the assurance when he embarked on the inspection of the construction and rehabilitation of all ongoing federal roads in southern Nigeria.
Fashola, who arrived in Calabar, the capital of Cross River State for the inspection of the 200-kilometre Calabar-Ikom-Ogoja-Katsina Ala road, said the Nigerian Government was determined to provide all citizens access to quality service that would enhance the standard of living for families.
According to the Minister, “the important thing is to realize the economic aspirations of Cross River State, which is based on tourism, the development of its quarrying activities, its strategic local as a seaport and the manufacturing activities that take place here”.
He opined that as an agency of the Nigerian Government, the Ministry was positioned to ensure people including commuters and farmers get relief from the pain of traversing the 40 years old road, which had several collapsed portions.
“This road, the Calabar-Ikom-Ogoja road, was featured extensively on different media during the last raining season. For a road that is 200 kilometres long, the contractor, was given only 45 million naira in January 2015, which is why the pain has endured”, said the Minister.
He explained that despite tough economic times, government would provide additional funds to enable SERMATECH, an indigenous construction company, rehabilitate critical failed portions of the road to cease the hardship on commuters.
“This administration has been able to keep that contractor here and we will pay some more money for the job to be done. However, we need to understand that it would take some time to finish the road”, said Fashola.
The Minister further stated “we have resolved to put what can be called ‘a pain-management solution’ in place to ease the trauma of the raining season and the failed sections, while the construction goes on”.
“It will be a little more expensive because ultimately when we start expanding the whole road, we will have to do the same thing again. I think the cost against the pain will have a beneficial analysis to the people at the end of the day and help the State pursue its developmental objective”, he said.
Reacting to the visit of the Minister, Mr. Desmond Erah, the site agent for SERMATECH, said that though the company received less than 50 percent as mobilisation in January 2015, the rehabilitation of the Calabar-Ikom-Ogoja road was ongoing through the effort of the firm.
Erah, who conducted the minister through the design for an expansion of the road further stated “the minister’s visit was eventful though we wished he would have gotten to the point where the company was making effort to rehabilitate at its own cost, we are glad about the inspection”.
“The Minister was impressed with the progress of work so far and has promised to go further to do some palliatives especially on critical sections that were so bad. We are determined to complete the stretch before the next dry season”, said Erah.
He explained, “as an indigenous company, it was important for SERMATECH to show its strength and capacity despite the challenges of funding and perennial rainfall. We are working on 67.1 kilometres of the road. We have a target to make the road passable; we have done 20km, and will continue with the work”.
The Site Agent also stressed the need for the Nigerian Government to partner with tested indigenous construction companies like SERMATECH to deliver on its promises of better road network for the growth and progress of Nigerians.
The Minister left Cross River for Akwa Ibom State through the Calabar-Itu-Uyo road, after a brief call on the Deputy Governor, Professor Ivara Esu.