The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs Godswill Akpabio has ordered contractors working on Kilometer 6+500, Section 3A of the East-West road, to immediately fix the Aleto bridge in Rivers State.
While contractors pleaded on sending engineers to the project site by Friday morning, the minister insisted that inspection must commence immediately in order to make the road passable for stranded commuters who are going through pains.
Stakeholders have raised alarm over imminent collapse of the Aleto Bridge along the East-West road but nothing was done to avert the current crisis
The bridge also links the road to Akwa-Ibom and Cross-River States, in addition to over 200 companies operating in Eleme local Government area, especially the Oil and Gas Free Zone Authority,Onne, Nigerian Ports Authority,NPA, Federal Ocean Terminal, FOT and Federal Lighter Terminal,Port Harcourt Refinery, Ndoroma Petrochemical Company among others.
Akpabio, who gave this order in Abuja after an emergency meeting with the contractors, blamed the development on delay in mobilisation and compensation before commencement of the project.
According to Akpabio while, N600 million was budgeted for compensation, the ministry later discovered that the actual cost for compensation was N6 billion which it settled last year.
Akpabio also blamed the crisis on lack of synergy between his ministry and the ministry of power over the construction of a power station. He also appealed to the contractors to quickly intervene to ameliorate the suffering of the people.
His words: “We are putting a lot of pressure on you because you are a reliable partner because if the road is shut down it will affect economic activities.
“RCC that is in charge of the project was not mobilsed for 6yrs, we are planning to have a flyover at that section of the road but lack of synergy between ministry and the ministry of power caused the delay.
“We discovered we were to pay N6billion as compensation after we have budgeted N600 million for it.
“It is the commitment of the ministry to ensure the completion of the road and there is also need for a review because prices of materials have gone up.
“I am appealing to RCC contractors to attend to the section of the road before the bridge, the government is a government of solution, they should go and ensure a free flow of traffic to ameliorate the suffering of the people, we need immediate intervention.
Responding, Engr. Nader Yusuf, Managing Director RCC Nigeria Ltd told the minister that the company has mobilsed engineers to the project site to carry out immediate assessment of the damage.
He assured the Minister that road will be made assessable for commuters in the interim while full construction is ongoing.