Tony John, Port Harcourt
Minister of Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, has declared that the Federal Government is committed to delivering an eight-lane Port Harcourt-Aba road wider and safer from its original four lanes.
Fashola disclosed this when he inspected the ongoing construction work on the Oyigbo axis of the Port Harcourt-Aba highway.
He said although the job is not billed to be completed this year, one of the major challenges delaying the project is because the contractor is building in an already built-up area.
The minister said: “We want to build bigger, wider and safer road here. Our design is to deliver eight lanes from what was four lanes.
“The entire road length to link Aba is 42 Kilometres. There is about 9 -15 kilometres in between the urban and metropolitan section that runs through Port Harcourt itself and that is the most challenging, building in an already built-up area.
“Some buildings will have to go. We have been working over the last few months to relocate Port Harcourt. These are challenges particularly the people of Aba and Port Harcourt must appreciate why this road is taking some time to build,” he noted.
The Minister of Works and Housing commended Rivers State government and the residents for the cooperation given to the contractor, CCECC, and urged them to sustain the responsibility.
“While the government does its part, we appeal to residents, citizens, state and local governments to also help us mobilise their people to a sense of civic responsibility and cooperation.
“This road won’t be finished this year without a doubt. What we are trying to achieve this year is to make the year’s rainy season better than last year in terms of travelling experience.
“If people have two uninterrupted lanes, it may be slow but it will move so we can concentrate on finishing. When we finish we can have the benefit of eight lanes,” Fashola stated.
The Enugu-Port Harcourt road is the road that links the five states of the South-East to the South-South through Port Harcourt.
Earlier, the Federal Controller of Works, Rivers State, J. Fadire, disclosed that the road was upgraded from four to eight lanes because of the importance of the road to the South-South and South East.
Fadire said the Oyigbo axis (from Imo River) of the road has reached 24 per cent, though not at the state expected.
He, however, mentioned funding as the major challenge slowing down the project.