The Niger State Governor, Alhaji Abubakar Bello, has pleaded with the Federal Government to complete the abandoned dualization of Suleja-Minna road.
He said the call for completion of the crucial road was to ensure safety, enhance socio-economic activities and reduce road accidents.
Speaking when he carried out an inspection of the road and interaction with key officers of the company handling the project, Salini Nigeria Limited, and stakeholders, at a failed section of the road at Bonu Village in Gurara Local Government Area of the State, the governor, who expressed concern over the present condition of the federal road, said something urgent needed to be done to address the situation.
Mr. Bello explained that the state government has made several efforts in maintaining the road but did not yield the desired result due to volume of traffic, heavy duty vehicles and lack of routine maintenance of the road since it was constructed over two decades ago.
“Even though it is a federal road, we have tried as a state government to fix it. Indeed, I directed continuous maintenance of the road, but due to high volume of traffic, heavy duty vehicles and age of the road, it didn’t last long. It is clear that considering the strategic importance of the road, the final solution is for the federal government to complete the dualization project started over 6 years ago”, the governor appealed.
“It is absolutely necessary that the federal government through ministry of works intervene as a matter of priority. Ordinarily, the journey from Minna to Abuja, which is about 1 hour 30 minutes, now takes over 3 hours resulting in discomfort and waste of human resources”.
Governor Bello, therefore, appealed to the Federal Government to expedite action through adequate budgetary allocation to enable the contractor complete the road in record time.
Earlier in his explanation, the Project Manager, Paolo Campanella, disclosed that inadequate funding was responsible for slow pace of work. He added that only 20per cent has been released for the project since it started.
“The project is suffering inadequate budgetary provision. Only 20 per cent of funds have so far been released. The total cost of the project Phase I and Phase II, is N34 billion naira, but in six years only N6 billion naira was released which is inadequate”.
The project manager who expressed delight over the interest shown by Governor Sani Bello revealed that the project was designed to be completed in 3years.
“This is a project of 30 months duration. Phase I was awarded at end of 2010 and supposed to be completed in July, 2013 now the time has elapsed redoubling the contract period.
“Phase II was awarded in February 2015, although there was no mobilisation to kick-start the work and largely due to the outstanding debt we have in phase I, we couldn’t go ahead with the project”.
In their remarks, former caretaker Chairman, Gurara local government, Yakubu Garba, and District Head of Bonu, Ibrahim Baba Shaba, appreciated and applauded Governor Sani Bello for maintaining the road and assured him of their support to government policies and programmes.
Even though about 70 per cent of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, was carved out of Niger state, it is the only state close to Abuja, which has not been linked by dual carriage way.
Kaduna, Nasarawa and Kogi, which are the closest to the FCT, have all been linked by dual carriage way.