A former Chairman of the South-South Parliamentary Caucus in the House of Representatives, Dr. Esio Oquong Udoh has urged the federal government to commence work on the fifth portion of the East-West road which starts from Oron to Calabar in Cross River state.
He made this remark while speaking with newsmen in Oron yesterday. Udoh, who represented Oron federal constituency between 1999 and 2003, said the recent promise by the Niger Delta Affairs Minister, Godswill Akpabio to complete the East-West road by next year was quite commendable but added that the road cannot be completed without the fifth portion.
Udoh said the fifth portion of the road was awarded to a Chinese construction company by the then administration of Dr. Goodluck Jonathan in 2014 at the cost of N167 billion while the consultant/designer got $715m.
The former House of Representatives member alleged that the immediate past minister of Niger Delta Affairs Ministry, Pastor Usani Usani, was the person who changed the original plan and design of the road, thereby frustrating the commencement of construction work on the fifth portion.
”To the best of my knowledge in 2014 when Dr. Goodluck Jonathan was the president, he had awarded the fifth portion of the East-West road to a Chinese company at the cost of N167billion.
”And even the designer/consultant was paid about $715million and the road was to traverse from Oron to Calabar and the design was even ready as a matter of fact.
”But it is unfortunate that the immediate past minister of the Niger Delta, Pastor Usani Usani came and generated issues on what was already done by the Jonathan administration and disrupted a lot of things.
”He then tried to divert the road through other areas and to end in Tinapa and in the course of that, the cost of the road was skyrocketed from the initial N167billion to about N350billion.
”And from what I gathered, that was the major reason why the federal government refused to award the job because the government claimed there was no money for such a project.
”It is unfortunate that for the past two years nobody has talked about the East-West and the current minister of Niger Delta is talking about finishing the East-West road which will be from Warri to Oron, but from Oron to Calabar nobody is talking about it.
”The emphasis should be on the fifth portion because close to 90% of the work from Warri to Oron has been done.
”We must challenge the fifth portion of the road until it is accomplished and until that portion of the road is completed the federal government cannot say it has completed the East-West road”
Udoh stressed the economic benefits of the fifth portion of the road to the Ibom Deep seaport and the economies of the states which it traverses.
”The economic implication of the East-West road is that there is a deep seaport coming up by God’s grace in the next three years and we expect that the East-West road up to Calabar will facilitate transportation and access to the Ibom Deep seaport”, he said.