THE Senate has commenced investigation into the 675km dual-carriageway East-West Road which has gulped N726 billion and is yet to be completed. The Senate also urged the Federal Roads Maintenance Agency, FERMA and Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, to intervene in the rehabilitation and directed the Ministry of Niger Delta to ensure the completion of the East/ West Road particularly the section that links the multi-national investment within the 2017 budget year.
It also mandated its Committee on Niger Delta to investigate the contract and report back within four weeks.
According to the Senate, the abandonment has disrupted economic activities in the country, noting that the road project was awarded by former President Olusegun Obasanjo in 2006 at the value of N211 billion, but the project could not commence in 2007 as arranged because it was not included in the 2007 Appropriation Act, adding that during the late former President Umaru Yar’Adua, nothing much was achieved as a result of lack of engineering drawings for the project .
The senators have, meanwhile, said that former President Goodluck Jonathan after the production of engineering drawings revalidated the contract sum from N211 billion to N726 billion and rewarded same to several contractors in sections 1-V. The resolutions of the Senate were sequel it a motion by Senator George Sekibo (PDP, Rivers East) and co- sponsored by 23 other senators.
According to him, the East-West Road links other parts of the country to multi-billion and multi-national investments including Port Harcourt Refinery 1 and 2, Indorama Petrochemicals, Notoire Fertilizer Company, NAFCON, federal ocean terminal 1 and 2, Onne/Ikpokiri Oil and Gas Free Zone, as well as the Nigeria Naval College among others.
He said that thousands of heavy duty vehicles ply the section of Aba/Eleme Road Junction to Onne Road on daily basis. He expressed worry that a portion road that is less than seven kilometers stretch which is the bad section could delay a traveller for more than four hours.
Speaking in the same vein, Senators James Manager, PDP! Delta South and Magnus Abe, APC, Rivers South East said that was unimaginable how such a major road would be abandoned to cause hardship to the people, wondering that no budgetary allocation was made in 2017 Appropriation Law on the completion of work on the road.
Also in his remarks, Senator Kabiru Marafa, APC,Zamfara Central added a prayer that the Senate should investigate the award of the contract, just as Senator Magnus Abe who seconded the additional prayer, stressed the need for the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC to be commended for road construction in the area and asked that the Senate do investigate the award of the contract under review.
On his part, Senator John Enoh, APC, Cross River Central said that the Executive branch should explore alternative funding arrangement to complete the project, just as Senator Clifford Ordia, PDP, Edo Central supported Enoh, saying that the Executive branch should explore alternative funding to complete the project.