…Inspects Itu-Odukpani road site
The Federal Government has assured the contractor handling the Itu-Odukpani road construction and rehabilitation project, Julius Berger Nigeria Plc, of a new funding strategy by the government for the contract to ensure that the works do not get bogged down any longer due to financing constraints.
Minister of Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, who gave the assurance on behalf of the government during his monitoring visit to the project site to inspect the extent of the ongoing works on the project, said going forward from his visit to the project, the Ministry has made an application for the Itu-Odukpani road works to henceforth be funded from the Sukuk funds steady infrastructural development works.
The Minister of Works, to the delight of stakeholders present at the event, maintained that there was no going back on the new funding strategy and successful completion of the Itu-Odukpani road, which he described as “a strategically important road” in the country.
Fashola then urged the contractor to, in the interim, work and remedy the very bad portions of the road to make it motorable during the rainy season.
The Minister said; “The Buhari administration will deliver the high priority Itu-Odukpani-Calabar road.”
The piece of information excited the people of the community and the Permanent Secretary of the Akwa Ibom State Ministry of Works, Engr. John Itiat, who was also on hand to receive the Minister at the project site. Engr. Itiat, who also spoke at the event, thanked the Minister for the good news that the project would henceforth be funded by the Sukuk funds without any further financing hitches occasioning operational delays.
Fashola commended the good commitment of the contractor,Julius Berger, to deliver on the Itu-Odukpani road construction and rehabilitation contract irrespective of challenges.
He noted that real, visible and serious engineering works have already done by the contractor on the road prior to unavoidable stoppage of work.
The Julius Berger Regional Manager South-east and South-south operations, Engr. Jurgen Fischer, expressed the company’s appreciation to the government on the Minister’s heart-warming information that the project will now be funded to completion from the Sukuk funds. Fischer assured the Minister of Julius Berger’s ready and unflinching commitment to, as always, deliver on its contractual obligations, even on the Itu-Odukpani Road project also.
During an inspection visit to the project last year, the Director, Federal Highways, Engr. Godwin Eke had said that the Itu-Odukpani-Calabar road was intended by the Federal government to give its adjoining communities and the country at large better access to greater participation in economic activities.
Engr. Eke had during that visit described the road as a major Federal road that links towns out of Calabar through Ugep and Ogoja in Cross River State to Katsina Ala in Benue State in the North central zone as well as to the North eastern geo-political zone.
The road, Engr. Eke said, also connects towns in Akwa Ibom State to the South-east and other South-south cities. The Director had said then that “the dualisation and successful completion of the Itu-Odukpani-Calabar road is strategically planned by government to resolve traffic issues of the important road corridor.”
Among other senior officials of the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing who were on the Minister’s entourage were the Federal Controller of Works in Akwa-Ibom State Engr. Nkereuwen Ukpong and the Director, Federal Highways, Engr. Godwin Eke.
Engr. Jurgen Fischer, who led the Julius Berger delegation to receive the Minister, was supported by the company’s Project Coordinator in Uyo, Mrs Ndifreke Ukochio, the site Manager Engr. Christian Kloepfel and Engr. Kehinde Bakare. The head of the company’s Media Relations Department, Prince Moses Duku, was also in attendance at the event in Uyo.
Asked by Media correspondents on his reaction to the Minister’s comments on the revealed new Sukuk funding for the project, Prince Moses Duku said: “Our team leader the Regional Manager, Engr. Jurgen Fischer has said all that was needed to be said on behalf of Julius Berger in appreciation of the Honourable Minister’s remarks. What more can I add, my dear friends.”