By Mashe Umaru Gwamna
Before the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari came to power, Roads across the country were dead traps. Many young and old Nigerians lost their lives on the roads daily; some bread winners of their families.
In his resolve to end the plight of those who trusted him with power, the president commenced construction of quality roads across the country.
Recently during a continuous inspection of the projects, Minister of Power Works and Housing II,Suleman Zarma, said roads construction under Buhari’s administration will stand the test of time.
Zarma gave this assurance at an assessment tour to Nasarawa , Benue and Plateau states North -Central zone, saying “we are building roads not constructing roads. With the quality of materials being used in building, the roads will have a life span of 20 -25 years.
He said the Federal Government was commitment to deliver quality projects to Nigerians. “We are building not constructing like the former administration. Take for instance, the Kaicha road in Niger state, we all saw what the road was from the beginning. You can remember the Controller told us that there are some roads the government had to begin all over again. We are doing that because the initial road was not constructed well by the architects, engineers and contractors at those times and some of the contractors had abounded some roads.
“What was lacking in those projects was sincerity of purpose and the ability to supervise. When construction of any project was taken place, if an eye is put on the project or supervision, there will be a lot of mistakes. This government met a lot of road projects but we had to change the narrative because it takes quality for roads to stand for long period of time “, Zarma emphasised.
While in Nasarawa State, the Federal Controller of Works Nasarawa state, Engr. Wasiu Taiwo told the Minister and his team during the assessment that the rehabilitation of Nasarawa-Loko -Alushi loop road project was abandoned in 2006 by former contractor handling the work.
Engr. Taiwo said the contract was rewarded to Messrs Gitto Costruzioni Generali Nigeria Limited in 2015 for completion in September, 2018.
He stressed that the contractor refused to resume to site until April 2017 when he was mobilized.
According to him, the contractor had been largely paid from the N15.19 billion augmented contract sum but the project is just 12.4 per cent completed a year after.
He said the rehabilitated road has a total length of 82km, is an asphalt road which cost 5.4 billion Naira. “The road presently is open at 0.00 which will link with Loko -Oweto bridge and will traverse important economic and agricultural settlements in Nasarawa state “.
He said 42 section of road have been completed while the overall percentage physical progress is 15.41%at a time lapse of 96.77%.
He said looking at the overview of road contractors after one year, the general progress achieved is low; the facts causing the slow progress are insufficient equipment and plants on the site. “There is need for the contractors to speed up the rate of work execution if they are to meet up with the date for the completion “.
Consequently, the Director Rehabilitation and Highways Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing Engr. Dayyabu Mamman expressed dissatisfaction with the slow pace of the road project, emphasising that the excuse given by the contractors on decongestion and deviation of traffic is lack of commitment on the part of the contractor.
Mamman said the Federal government policy is that whenever there is any contract given along river Benue or river Niger “it must be dualizual carriage road”.
Earlier, the Minister insisted that, the deadline for the project remains September, 2018.
Zarma assured that irrespective of the challenges, the ministry should have been carried along or notified officially by writing a letter.
Consequently, at the construction of Loko – Owete bridge over river Benue in Nasarawa and Benue awarded to RCC ( NIG) ltd in Nov 2011 to lapse November 2018.
It is 1.835km long with 1400 length contract sum of 51.61billion and 41.33billion Naira Sukuk fund partly injected in the project.
Meanwhile, the 2nd longest Nigeria in bridge which will link various states in South –East and North East is already 86% completed.
The Project Manger RCC, Eyas Nassar, explained that the construction consist of two (2) bridges across river Benue. The northern bridge will have 1.835 long each while southern bridges has 200m long each measured between abutment axes .
He said the construction has created employment opportunities to over 700 Nigerians on the site and has engaged 25 expatriates.
“The artisans, technicians, among others in this project site have acquired a lot of experience which has enabled them to deliver the work according to the design.”
Nassar maintained that the firm deployed over 10 years of its experience to execute the contract, stressing that similar project was constructed in Imo state and timely delivered.
After the assessment, the Minister commended RCC, contractors handling the Loko- Oweto bridge for the standard quality and materials used in the construction of the bridge, noting that Nigerians were eager to have the bridge ready as soon as possible.
In Benue state, Zarma inspected the progress of work on the Otukpo township road, Otukpo – Aliade , 9th Mile -Otukpo and the road linking the Benue ends of the Oweto bridge expected to serve as major link between the North and South.
The Minister, who decried the slow pace of work on some of the roads, said the present administration would not compromise standard in the delivery of its projects.
However, Under these axises , the Minister inspected Oshegbudu-Oweto road, dualization of Otukpo township road, rehabilitation of Vandeikya -Obudu cattle ranch road , Makurdi-Gboko road phase 1.
From Benue, Zarma then proceeded to plateau state where the people of Ballang kaleb community, known for their hospitality rolled out drums to welcome the minister for the inspection of road project initiated by the Buhari led administration to link Pankshin- Tapshin leading to Bauchi state.
The community leader, Mr Ne Dan Tong assured the delegation of their resolve to support president Muhammadu Buhari’s re election bid.
At the site, Zarma expressed displeasure over the low quality of work by contractors under the national housing project.
The Minister used the occasion of the courtesy visit to request for additional lands from the states governors for the Family Homes Funds, a social housing project from the office of the Vice President to add to the housing stock and targeting the low income earners. According to him, he was making the plea in his capacity as the chairman of the Lands and Infrastructure subcommittee of the project, adding that the fund is targeting the provision of 100,000 houses annually.
More so, the Minister paid a courtesy visit on the executive governor of plateau state, Mr. Simon Lalong where the minister requested for additional land to commence the second phase of the national housing programme and the proposed family home fund expected to deliver one hundred thousand houses to Nigerians annually.
Earlier, the contractor handling Ballang- Nyellang -Sara-Gindiri road, Mr.,Oladepo Olarunfemi said the site was officially handed over to him in January, 2018 for immediate commencement of work and the work to be complete same within the stipulated contract period of 12 months.
He said the major challenge they are facing was that the contract has an unusual design , the road is a virgin land , no water and five boreholes has been drilled and the community is benefiting from, adding that no Quarry on the road.
Olarunfemi added that when the road is constructed it will bring human development, education, health and employment to the people.