The Honourable of Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Raji Fashola SAN, said the on-going expansion and upgrading work on the Port Harcourt– Enugu and the Aba – Port Harcourt Expressway was on course.
He added that the nine kilometers from Eleme junction to the Imo River and four kilometers of the road to the railway crossing in Aba towards Port Harcourt were sections of the road being expanded and upgraded from the 4 (four) existing lanes to 8 (eight) lanes so as to accommodate current and future traffic volumes and ease some level of intolerable discomfort especially during the rainy season.
Fashola disclosed this during an inspection tour of the highway project in Port- Harcourt, the Rivers State capital.
According to the minister, the road would link the five States in the South -East Geopolitical Zone of the country. The highway has a total length of 41.4km starting from Aba Rail Crossing Bridge within Aba township in Abia state and will finally terminate at Eleme junction Flyover in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
Fashola applauded the initiative of the construction company, China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation Nigeria Limited as it planned to focus on the first 4 (four) lanes, finish that and put them in to use before reconstruction of the other 4 (four) lanes to reduce the long time spent in traffic by commuters and the community.
“If people have two uninterrupted lanes, traffic may be slow but it will move, and therefore we can concentrate on finishing the remaining lanes. When we finish both, then we can have the full compliment of the 8 lane highway.” he said.
Fashola said, “Our plan is to make this year better than last year and ultimately by next year, there will be no rainy season challenges because, we should have come out fully from this,”he added.
The minister also disclosed that similar construction work had commenced at the Enugu and Okigwe axis of the highway project by different contractors to provide seamless traveling experience.
Fashola directed that all vehicles parked at construction sites of highway projects should be impounded, adding that Federal government roads were not for parking lot. “Our highways are not parking lots, people who want to do business must create their own parking lots as well.’’
He urged local and state governments to mobilize their people to be alive to their civic responsibilities and cooperation, pointing out that community and personal hygiene were crucial in this crisis of Coronavirus (Covid 19).
“We must not waste the crisis that Covid-19 represents. It is an opportunity to improve on personal and community hygiene and sanitation such as putting an end to open urination and defecation,” Fashola advised.
The Federal Controller of Works Rivers State, Engr. Johnson Fadire who conducted the minister, his team and journalists round the on-going road construction project said the minister’s inspection was timely and that the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing would do the needful to make sure the road was completed and delivered at the right time.
Engr. Fadire also commended the traditional rulers who prevailed on their subjects whose properties were demolished for the construction of the highway for agreeing to accept an initial payment of fifty percent for compensation on their demolished properties.
Speaking earlier, the project manager of CCECC Nigeria Limited, Mr. Zou Xiaomei one of the contractors handling section IV of the project in Rivers State said although there were initial challenges on the project but with the support of the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing most of the challenges were sorted out.