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FEC approves N79bn contract for Odukpani-Itu road

FEC approves N79bn contract for Odukpani-Itu road
September 01
18:04 2021

The federal executive council (FEC) has approved N79.649 billion for the dualisation of the Odukpani-Itu-Ikot Ekpene road.

The council approved this during its weekly FEC meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday.

Speaking with reporters after the meeting, Babatunde Fashola, minister of works and housing, said the approved contract is in relation to the section from Oku Iboku Power Plant to Abak, which stretches for about 26km.

He said the contract was awarded to Sematech Nigeria Ltd, adding that it will be completed within 16 months.

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Fashola also said the Odukpani-Itu-Ikot Ekpene road was an important trade link for the country.

“The ministry of works and housing presented the memorandum for the completion of the dualization of the Odukpani-Itu-Ikot Ekpene road. And this is in relation to the section from Oku Iboku Power Plant to Abak of about 26 kilometres stretch,” Fashola said.

“Council approved the award to Messers Sematech Nigeria Ltd for N79.649 billion to be executed over 16 months.

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“So, this will help complete the dualization gaps between the one awarded to Julius Berger and the section awarded to CCECC.

“When this is done, motorists in that area will now have an option of the dual carriageway instead of the existing single carriageway.

“And this is in recognition of the heavy cargo that passes through that area from the south-south through to the north central, Benue through Katsina Ala through to the south east to Abia.”

In 2020, a section of the road project was awarded for N54 billion.

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Giving an update on the 2020 contract award for the same project, Fashola blamed the paucity of funds for the slow pace of the project.

“Okay, first of all, it’s important for us to have a common understanding of the area, that is the rain forest area of Nigeria, mangrove areas, very high water table and rains in seven, eight months of the year,” he explained.

“So, when we awarded the first section, from Odukpani-Itu to Julius Berger in 2016, they could not move to the site because of the limited budgetary requisitions.

“So, that slowed down work in that area and they didn’t move to site until 2018. And the second section, which was from Abak to Ikot Ekpene was awarded last year February 2020. We have had to mobilise some Sukuk resources to the area.

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“Sometime last year, you might recall that I was there visiting with the governor, I actually went twice and we focused first on the link road from Alese-Ugep area because that was a very big bad one, that one use to take like, three, four days to traverse a 70-kilometre road.

“Now, we have that under control, resolved, motorable in the first phase to Odukpani. That has reduced the journey time there to less than two hours, from days. So, again, it’s a work in progress.

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“We’re still challenged by resources. What we can mobilize there when you look at the contract amounts is about N54 billion, as you rightly pointed out, we have about N4 billion, N5 billion in the Sukuk. And if you look at this year’s budget for the whole area, the amount approved by parliament was N100 million.

“So, again, we’re hoping that we can fund this one because we’ve proposed it for this year’s Suku. So, these are the challenges that we face.

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“We mobilized the contractors. Now is to keep them resourced and financed so that they can do the work, especially during the the forthcoming dry season.

“So, when you see the minister of finance, talking about the deficit that needs to be financed by borrowing, this is what is largely deployed to. But it’s just not enough because almost all of what was left undone for about two decades, we’ve inherited it, and we ask for the job and we commit to doing it.”

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