Thursday, February 2, 2017 11:29 pm
The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, has expressed displeasure over the neglect of inter-state roads in some parts of the country in preference for inter-community roads.
Fashola expressed the feeling in Umuahia on Thursday during an interview with newsmen.
He came to inspect reconstruction work on Enugu-Port Harcourt Expressway and Aba-Ikot Ekpene Road in Abia.
The minister, who earlier inspected federal road projects in Imo, said that in the state, funds meant for the construction of the Owerri-Umuahia Road were deployed to building inter-community roads.
The minister said that there was no part of the country “where the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing is not doing one thing or another.
“But it is important to emphasise that in Imo State, for instance, in the past, funds that were perhaps meant to build inter-state roads, have gone into inter-community roads.
“So we saw on our records Owerri-Umuahia Road under construction but the truth is that no work is going on there.
“The work is going on in the roads leading to the villages instead of using the money to build Owerri-Umuahia Road, which connects two big economies down to Akwa Ibom and Enugu states and facilitate more trade.
“The villages where those roads are built, what is the business there other than one person making coffin?
“Regrettably, the main road where all the economic activities take place was not getting attention but that was being represented to us as being done,” he said.
The minister promised to change the scenario.
He said that the ministry would seek legislative backing to enable it to focus on its mandate of building inter-state roads, such as Owerri-Okigwe-Umuahia Road.
“These are the roads we will concentrate on without prejudice to what the elected representatives of the people want to do at the local level,” Fashola said.
He said that it was not a diversion of funds by states that preferred to do so but stressed that it was imperative to place more emphasis on roads with the heaviest traffic than the community roads with lighter traffic.
The minister expressed delight that contractors had returned to work on the Enugu-Port Harcourt Expressway, which was abandoned midway because of the lack of funds.
He said that the contractors were not paid for three years but that the present administration ensured their payment in 2016.
“Our government at the federal level is blind to party, when it comes to development,” the minister said, adding: “every state of the federation is part of the constituency of President Muhammadu Buhari.
“We have his mandate to partner not to compete with the state and the mandate goes down to our controllers to make themselves available to support the state.”
Meanwhile, the Abia Commissioner for Works, Chief Eziuche Ubani, who accompanied the minister on the inspection, said the state government had secured another dump site and would soon fence off the one at the Umuahia end of the expressway.
Ubani expressed regrets that the dump site, which covered the Enugu-bound lane of the expressway, obstructed construction work.
The minister was later joined by Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu of Abi to inspect work on the dilapidated Aba-Ikot Ekpene Road.
He assured the contractor handling the project, Chief Eddie Anyanwu, that the ministry would give him the necessary support to complete the job before the rainy season.
Contract for the reconstruction of Enugu-Port Harcourt Expressway was awarded in 2013 by the Goodluck Jonathan’s administration.
One lane of the dual carriageway has been covered by refuse and as a result motorists from opposite directions use one lane, which has often led to congestions and road accidents. (NAN)