Minister of Niger-Delta Affairs, Elder Godsday Orubebe, has said the East-West Road in the Niger Delta will be completed by December 2014.
Orubebe denied that the road, which is about 53 per cent complete, had become impassable.
Speaking in Lagos on Thursday, the minister said paucity of funds was stalling the project, adding that only N1.2bn was provided for the East-West Road as against the approved N200bn.
He added that apart from lack of funds, insecurity was a major hindrance to the completion of the 338km road project.
He appealed to the people of the region to encourage the contractors handling the project by stopping the kidnapping of expartriates and engineers for the project to be completed on schedule.
Orubebe said, “In 2006, former President Olusegun Obasanjo awarded the East-West Road contract for over N200bn. This was a project that was awarded for N200bn and what was provided was N1.2bn as against what was approved.
“The project was expected to have been completed in 2009. And a project of this magnitude requires a survey and detailed design that will take not less than one year. But because of the pressure, the President gave them only two weeks and they came back with what we call just ordinary base line survey.
“The contractors had no money, it was in 2009, when this project was handed over to the Ministry of Niger Delta that we had to spend the whole of 2009 and 2010 to draw detailed design for this project. There were no funding programmes for this project and later the detailed designs were completed in 2010.”
The minister added, “It was from 2010 we started having financial grant for the road. Anytime I want to talk at the National Executive Council meeting, my colleagues either called me East-West Road or Niger-Delta. This road must be completed because this is where the resources from this nation come from.
“And when I come home, people who do not know how I struggled, people who do not know and care to know about how far we have gone, talk in the pages of newspapers and television and even in Abuja to say that government is not doing anything.
“For the first time in the history of Nigeria under President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration, 2013 East-West road project is provided with N120bn.”
I say these things to let you know that you have a President who has a passion to develop the Niger Delta.”