Minister of State for Power, Works and Housing, Mustapha Shehuri, has assured contractors and motorists that government would soon release funds needed to complete the Aba/Port Harcourt Expressway.
Shehuri, who spoke during a visit to the site, stressed that government would soon look at the issue of compensation for affected landlords in the area with a view to making funds available to finish the project.He said the expansion of the road is necessary considering the fact that Port Harcourt and Aba are big cities, which need serious attention because of the high rate of commerce between Abia and Rivers states.
“The road has the right design, there is no provision for dryness of funds, it has to be actualized”, the minister said. The Guardian gathered that the road project was awarded to Messrs CCECC Nigeria Limited contractor in 2014 as a -four lane road project but mobilization was not substantially paid until 2016 when the works fully commenced.
It was also learnt that work commenced on January 2016 after some owners of structures affected by the project were paid some percentage of compensation while expansion work on the road from 4 lane to 8 lanes was approved by the Federal Government in March 2018 with the same contractor.
But works have been slow because of Federal Government’s delay to release money to pay full compensation to owners of structures along the road.
Speaking with The Guardian, the Federal Controller of Works in the State, Mr. Johnson Fadire, disclosed that after the approval, the contractor was paid and mobilised to site and work commenced but stressed that the major problem facing the project is payment of compensation to owners of structures whose building were affected from the initial four lanes to eight lanes.Fadire noted that some structures were not properly captured during the preparation of documents for expansion into eight lanes.
The situation he said is currently delaying the approval of the compensation estimate by the federal government. Project manager for CCECC Nigeria Limited, Gao Qiang, described the state of the road as terrible and urged government to expedite action.