From Abel Leonard, Lafia
Recall that three years ago, precisely on 22/11/2018 was when the Federal government of Nigeria through the Minister of works and housing headed by Barrister Babatunde Raji fashola, flagged off the road dualization work on Abuja, Keffi , Lafia to Makurdi road.
The contract was awarded to China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) in the tune of over 0ne Hundred Billion Naira, expected to be completed in Three years(36months).
The Chinese company sprang into action immediately cutting across some communities along affected road map in 2019, but was however delayed because of the raining season.
Babatunde Fashola, Minister of Works and Housing had disclosed that the president Muhammadu Buhari’s visit to China on diplomatic mission wasn’t for fantasy but aim at engagement with experts who can tackle meaningful live changing projects that has direct bearing on the welfare of Nigerians.
adding that a major fallout of that visit to China resulted in the procurement of funds for the construction of the roads in the country.
“President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration readiness to ensuring that the flag off of the road construction will be completed within 36 months” he said.
Daily sun observed that the flag off of the project was a welcome development in the eyes of motorists, commuters,who believed that upon completion the challenges faced in plying the road would be the thing of the past, noting the unavoidable traffic gridlock, insecurity, road accident among others.
Stakeholder, traditional leaders, had hoped that the project would not suffer funding as was the case
with the construction of Loko/Oweto bridge, Abaji / Lokoja road, which have suffered neglect by successive administration as a result of insufficient funding.
However, several factors have been attributed to leading to the delay of the project, ranging from failure of the Ministry of Works and Housing to put measures in place to pay adequate compensation to those whose properties were affected and inadequate funding, which was a constrained stopping the contractors from working.
According to a source in the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing, who spoke with our correspondent, said the delay was occasioned by epileptic payments to the contractor.
He also mentioned he also the COVID-19 pandemic, which led to a global shut down of the economy of the world in 2020 as part of the constraints that delayed the completion of the road project as against the proposed that of completion.
“all these factors have greatly affected the time schedule of the project, there is no way the target date could have been met under the above circumstances. He however noted that the FMWH and the contractor are accelerating the pace of work in the prevailing dry season and hopefully the work will be completed in 2022. He stated.
The construction company, China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) according to our investigation had made efforts to ensure they complete the project by keeping and paying their workers as when due even during the stay at home covid19 period in 2020.
According to the companies information and public relations head, Rain Liu Who disclosed to our correspondent saying a lot efforts had been put in place to ensure Nigeria people are giving the best quality road construction, adding that the road construction has a guarantee of over fifty years and as against the normal thirty years.
She further said the company as a way of showing their social cooperate responsibility, had engaged more than ten thousand Nigerians working with the company and had also sank boreholes in various communities in Abuja, Nasarawa, and Benue respectively.
However, the FMWH and the contractors has been accelerating the progress of site work in prevailing dry season and seek to complete the work in 2022 hopefully. She said.
The timely completion of the road project is what the Nasarawans and the Nigerian people are clamouring for so as to end many years of lives lost as a result of one fatal accident or the other, delay in getting to destinations on time as a result of pot holes, stacked by armed robbers as a result of bad roads among other fears.
Daily Sun Correspondents spoke with some transporters who ply the road on a daily basis, Abubakar Ahmed who commended the quality of work being while noting that government should release more funds timely so that the road project could be completed so as to ease the pain of transporters plying the road and also reduce travel time and the cost of vehicle maintenance.
“from what many of us have seen so far the Chinese company is doing a great job, when you look at the thickness of the asphalt it is quite impressive and there is no doubt that the quality of the road will stand the test of time. He added.
Another transporter Chukuwuemeka Friday who spoke to Daily Sun Correspondent stated that the completion of the road would be one of the basic achievement of the present Administration led by president Muhammadu Buhari.
Also appealed to the Federal government to ensure that more funds are released to complete the project which will aid transporters while also stating that the road has increased the cost of vehicle maintenance and cost of transportation. He noted.
Our findings revealed that some communities that were affected as a result of the awarded project by the federal government decry that the compensation was very slow but confirmed that many of them have now received their compensation from which had made it easier for the construction company to make sufficient progress towards completing the work.
A community leader in Gaate Kokona Local government area of Nasarawa state, Alhaji Ibrahim Goje applauded the federal government for the payment of compensation for his farmland which was partially affected by road construction and also thanked China Harbour the company handling the project for providing a borehole for his community.
“We are happy with government and we are cooperating with the contractor for being a socially responsible company. When they came here we pleaded with them to assist us with a borehole and they did it within two months of presenting the request to them.
“Before now pipe borne water was a major problem in our community but thanks to China Harbour it is now a thing of the past. They provided a borehole and also provided a generator to power it.”
“The project has opened up our communities to development and has also provided employment opportunities for many of our youths making them gainfully employed.”
“This project l must say has been of great benefit to us and we are happy and cooperating for its speedy completion”. He said.
In a contrast development, while some communities have been fully compensated by the federal government many others along the road corridor have expressed worries that they are yet to receive anything from government. Some of those affected had appealed
to Governor of Nasarawa state, Engr. Abdullahi Sule for quick intervention into the matter.
Confirming the statement made by some affected farmland owners, is one of the a worker who does not wants his name mentioned for the fear of getting sacked disclosed that compensation was strictly within the purview of the Federal Government through the Ministry of works, “We are just client to the works Ministry.
The ministry is to make the space available for us to do our construction work, We are not responsible for compensation.”
“However because we are the ones on ground, the ones people see on site they think we are responsible for compensating them. But this is not the case”
It is very important to note that Nasarawans and Nigerians in totality are in a hurry to witness the completion of the over 36 months project as it would go a long way in reducing car damage, Armed robbery cases been experienced by motorist and commuters while calling on the Federal Government to ensure adequate and timely release of funds to the contractors towards ensuring that the objectives behind the project is achieved.