FG to complete Benin-Lokoja Road in six months — Umahi

The Minister of Works, David Umahi, says the Federal Government has put plans in place to complete the construction of the Benin-Lokoja Road project within six months.

Umahi made this known on Thursday in Abuja during a meeting with the contractors handling the road projects.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports the representative of Edo North Senatorial District, Adams Oshiomole, and the All Progressives Congress governorship candidate in Edo State, Senator Monday Okpebholo, were at the meeting

Umahi said the Federal Government had devised means to hasten the completion of the road project, which was awarded since 2012, but could not be completed.

He disclosed that the Federal Government had agreed to BUA’s commitment to construct 30 kilometres of the road under the tax credit scheme after which a tax certificate would be issued to the company.

The Minister added that three other contractors would be mobilised for the construction of the remaining 30 kilometres.

He said: “Four contractors will handle the four sections off the road.

“The first section from Lokoja is being handled by CGC, the second section is being handled by Mother Cat, the third section is handled by Dantata and Sawoe, while the last section is handled by RCC.

“Let me say that this project was first awarded in 2012, later the last administration reviewed the project to N879 billion under the Nigerian National Petroleum Company tax credit scheme.

“However, the costs of the project is different from the commitment of NNPC because NNPC’s commitment was just N122 billion and so there was a funding gap of  N775 billion and I don’t see where that money is coming from.

“So all I did when we came onboard was to keep the project but review the texture of the pavement by allowing the existing carriageway to be asphalt and then reviewed the new carriageway to be concrete.”

Umahi said the ministry would mobilise the contractors after signing an addendum to collect 30 percent fund to fast track the project, amounting to N9 billion each.

He, however, said the contractors would do an affidavit agreeing on the timing for completion of the project

He said: “We are very serious about the timing of our projects; we no longer allow contractors to determine how long they stay on site.

“We have to demand for timetable and we have to work according to the timetable. 

“So I am appealing to you contractors to be diligent and committed.”

Responding, Kabiru Rabiu, Group Executive Director, BUA Group, said the company was committed to supporting the administration of President Bola Tinubu to succeed.

According to Rabiu, in Edo State alone, BUA made an investment of over $2 billion with five lines of cement.

He said the construction of the 30 kilometres road was also in favour of the group as well as the people of Edo State.

He said: “I want to give our commitment to take on the road project. 

“We are committed to make the necessary investment under the tax credit scheme in return for a tax certificate.”

Earlier, Oshiomole commended the Tinubu-led administration for responding swiftly to the needs of the people.

According to Oshiomole, Edo State residents had been lamenting over the deplorable state of the road for the past two to three administrations.

He said some of the contractors were not serious with the project, while some totally abandoned it.

He said: “We appealed to the previous governments.

“We had a lot of promises, but they were not kept. 

“So we cried to the President.

“We are happy that through the intervention of the Minister, the President has given us a listening ear.

“I was shocked that within 72 hours the Minister swung to action, the problem that ministers before him could not solve got a swift answer.”

For his part, Okpebholo said President Tinubu succeeded in rekindling hope in the people of Edo State through the road project.

“We didn’t know how we were going to campaign because of bad roads.

“I commend the minister for the swift action.

“If this is how Nigeria works, everybody will want to come back home. 

“Nobody will want to leave the country.

“I am happy that this is done. 

“It is an excellent move for Edo people. 

“With this, we will win our election with a clean slate.”

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