The Federal Government has set up a multi-agency intervention mechanism to repair the failed Calabar-Itu Highway, a few days after this newspaper published an investigative report on the deplorable state of the road.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Niger Delta Affairs, Ita Enang, made this known while inspecting the failed highway on Friday.
During the inspection, Mr. Enang said four agencies of the Federal Government have reached an agreement to collaborate and work on the Trunk A-4 Highway constructed in the ’70s.
The agencies include: the Federal Ministry of Works, Federal Emergency and Road Management Agency (FERMA), the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC,) and the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC).
The measure became necessary following the total collapse of parts of the highway not awarded and the abandonment of the parts awarded to Julius Berger Plc.
The construction firm was awarded contract for the construction of the road and mobilised to site a few months before the general elections in February.
It, however, moved its equipment out of the construction site a few weeks after the elections were concluded, citing low funding.
But during the inspection led by Mr. Enang, the representative of the German construction firm, Christian Kloeptol, assured remedial work will be carried out on the part of the road awarded to his firm.
Mr. Kloeptol, who is also the project the manager had insisted that the company pulled out of site due to Federal Government’s failure to meet its funding obligations.
According to him, the government has only released N4 billion out of the N50 billion approved for the project
“We had started work on the site but had to pull out later due to lack of funds,” Mr. Kloeptol said.
But to make vehicular movement possible especially during the Yuletide season, Mr. Enang appealed to Mr. Mr. Kloeptol to ensure remedial work is done on the failed parts of the awarded road.
However, the federal ministry of works, FERMA and NDDC were asked to fix the yet to be awarded portions of the road between Odukpani in Cross River and Itu in Akwa Ibom State.
On its part, the FRSC’s commands in the two states were asked to post their officers and men to ensure free traffic flow along the road.
Addressing journalists, Mr. Enang commended the NEXT EDITION newspaper and XL FM for their thorough reports on the road, saying the project was stalled due to lack of funds.
Currently, he said on 22 kilometres of the Calabar-Itu Highway which begins from Odukpani in Cross River State and terminates in Aba, Abia State has been awarded at the cost of N54 billion.
According to him, the N7 billion released by the Federal Government to Julius Berger is grossly inadequate to drive the project.
“The essence of this assessment is for us to join forces in terms of resources to provide intervention on this road,” Mr. Enang said.
“FERMA will take its part, the NDDC will take its part and the federal ministry of works will take its part.
“As I have been saying, there are three sections of this road: the one that is awarded, the one designed, under procurement but yet to be awarded and the section that nothing has happened at all.
“There’s what the federal ministry of works calls ‘Ember Month Programme’. It is aimed at keeping federal highways workable and motorable during the Christmas period. They have that provision and that’s what they will be doing here,” he said.
Speaking, the representative of the Federal Ministry of Works, Peter Umoren, said the proposal for fixing the failed parts of the road to ameliorate the suffering of commuters was receiving serious attention.
“We have already sent our proposal to the headquarters for the Ember Month Programme. It is receiving attention and as soon as it is approved, we will mobilise to the site,” said Mr. Umoren.
On his part, a Deputy Director NDDC, Etim Eyoette said the agency will collaborate with others to fix the dilapidated road.
“We have seen the deplorable condition of the road and we have taken the measurement and sent a proposal to the head office. NDDC is not new to this road. In 2016, we intervened in some portions of the road. So, we know exactly what to do in this situation,” Mr. Eyoette said.
Similarly, the Zonal Coordinator of FERMA, covering Akwa Ibom, Rivers and Bayelsa states, Backon Israel gave the assurance that necessary steps were being taken to tackle the situation.