…Visits Otti, tasks govs to checkmate kidnappings along nation’s highways
From George Onyejiuwa (Owerri) and Okey Sampson (Umuahia)
The Minister of Works, Senator David Umahi has commended Governor Hope Uzodimma for bringing visible development in Imo State for the period he has been in office, noting that the governor’s handwork is showing everywhere.
Umahi spoke Friday night when he paid a working visit to Governor Uzodimma at Government House Owerri.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Works, has urged state governors to checkmate incessant kidnappings along the nation’s highways. This, he said, they could do by clearing bushes from the edges of the highways about 50 metres inwards, to give clear visibility.
The Minister’s interaction with his host was a meeting of brothers where Governor Uzodimma thanked President Bola Ahmed Tinubu for appointing Umahi whom he described as “one of the Igboland’s best and brightest” to man the Federal Ministry of Works with the intention of realising the President’s manifesto.
The Minister who was in the State to inspect ongoing federal government projects said commended the quality of roads, most of them federal government roads, which Governor Uzodimma had initiated and completed in Imo State within a short period of time.
Umahi noted that the Owerri to Okigwe road happened to be “one of the best roads in all the roads” he has visited as a Minister, and congratulated the governor.
The Minister said: “Imo residents and indeed the South East are blessed to have Governor Uzodimma, as his handwork is already showing everywhere.
“Let me thank you for a lot of improvements that you have done in the state as is also shown on the neatness and beauty of the capital city.”
Umahi who said he was in the state to assess ongoing Federal Roads noted that there are three Federal road projects in the state, but only one is ongoing. Some of the roads that he mentioned are the Owerri-Okpalla and Port Harcourt-Enugu Express Road.
He said he had directed the contractor to step up and complete the first section, while the other 46km of the same road should be redesigned to meet the new standards and demands.
Umahi promised to accommodate the construction of the Orlu-Mgbe-Akokwa-Uga road in the 2024 budget just as he announced his intention to terminate the Ama Nwozuzu-Orie Amaraku road contract because no meaningful job has been done so far there even with the contractor mobilised to site.
In his remarks, Governor Uzodimma recalled how he secured approvals of the then President Muhammadu Buhari to construct the Owerri-Okigwe and Owerri-Orlu roads, all completed and then, to start work on the Owerri-Umuahia road, which is nearing completion.
Governor Uzodimma regretted that all efforts to get the contractor, RCC Nigeria handling the Owerri-Aba road awarded about 14 years ago, had not yielded the desired result.
Describing Umahi as “a round peg in a round hole,” the governor said that President Tinubu needs men of trust and courage like him to realise his manifesto.
Regardless, the Governor acknowledged that there are too many abandoned federal road projects all over the country and advocated “comprehensive audit of the federal projects to not only know their level of completion, but even the spread among the geopolitical zones.”
Governor Uzodimma bemoaned the efficiency of the Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA), saying it appears more like a conduct pipe. He then encouraged the minister to look beyond FERMA and ensure that “the old maintenance culture is be recovered and returned.”
While in Abia State, on tour of some federal government road projects in the state, made an appeal to governors to show greater commitment to checkmating kidnapping along federal roads, when he paid a courtesy visit on Governor Alex Otti at his country home, Umuehim Nvosi in Isiala Ngwa South Local Government Area.
He disclosed that the Federal Government was currently involved in the rehabilitation of 11 highways in Abia State.
The Minister mentioned some of the roads to include the section 2 of the Enugu/Port Harcourt Expressway, the Umuahia/Ikot Ekpene, the Aba/Ikot Ekpene, Umuahia/Owerri and the Umuahia/Bende/Ohafia highways.
Others are the Uturu/Isuikwuato/Akara, Aba/Owerri, Ohafia/Abiriba/Nkporo highways and the Umuchichi Road in Aba.
The Minister informed that section 1 of the Enugu/Port Harcourt Expressway, stretching from Enugu to Umuahia Tower in Abia has been completed, while promising that the remaining stretch, from Aba to Port Harcourt would be completed, using the rigid pavement technology.
The former governor of Ebonyi State who regretted that work on some of the roads have lingered as a result of lack of funds, however, told Governor Otti that the good news was that financing of some of the roads have been moved to NNPC funding and as such would be completed soon.
He pleaded with the governor to intervene and pay compensation to landowners at the proposed trailer park at Arongwa, on the Enugu/Port Harcourt Expressway, to enable his Ministry move in immediately and develop the park.
Umahi disclosed that the trailer park at Lokponta along the same expressway, had be completed and put into use.
He advised governors to appoint Special Advisers on Federal Government projects monitoring in their various states to ensure such projects were properly executed.
He added that any of such projects not certified by the governors as having been properly executed would not be paid for by his Ministry.
The Minister stated that Federal Government would not stop any governor from rehabilitating federal roads, assuring that money spent on such roads would be refunded when available.
Responding, Otti told the Minister that people of the state find it difficult to travel to neighbouring Rivers and Akwa Ibom States as a result of poor state of federal roads in the state.
“Before now, it took 30 minutes to travel to Port Harcourt from Aba, but now, it takes three hours because of the bad nature of the road,” Otti said.
The governor informed the Minister of his administration’s intention to reconstruct the Umuahia/Uzuakoli/Abiriba/Ohafia and expressed optimism the state would be refunded at the appropriate time.
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