Contractors handling the rehabilitation of the two sections of the Enugu-Port Harcourt Expressway have called on the Federal Government to sustain the Sukuk fund in order to ensure steady funding and timely completion of the project.
They made the call on Monday, when a delegation from the Fiscal Responsibility Commission (FRC) for the South East, led by a staff of the commission, Mr Alex Elikwu, visited the site “to verify the level of budgetary performance of the project.”
Elikwu said that the verification involved Sections I covering 59.2km (Lokpanta-Umuahia) and Section II, covering 59.1km (Umuahia-Aba), costing about N30 billion and N50 billion, respectively.
Mr Ali Omar, the Project Manager of Arab Contractors Nigeria Ltd., handling the Section II of the project, said that about 42 km of the 59.1 km road had been asphalted.
He said that the project would be ready in the next one-and-a half years, adding that the company had applied for a one-year extention to enable them to cover up for the lost time caused by the rain.
Omar, who was accompanied by the Supervising Consultant, Mr Edmond Ezi, expressed the hope that the tempo of work would increase now that the rain had subsided.
He attributed the success so far recorded on the project to the regular release of funds through Sukuk, adding that with Sukuk, funding had never been an issue for them.
He, therefore, urged the federal government to continue to leverage Sukuk in order to ensure that the project did not suffer unnecessary delay due to poor funding, often associated with inadequate budgetary allocations and releases.
Also, the Area Manager of Setraco Nigeria Ltd., handling the Section I of the project, Mr Fouad Ghazal, said that 62 per cent of the road had been asphalted.
Ghazal promised that the job would be completed and delivered by March 2021, “if the N800 million outstanding is released.”
The FRC delegation also inspected the ongoing N940 million gully erosion control sub-contract at Nsukwe on the Umuahia end of the expressway.
The team further inspected the ongoing construction of a trailer park at the Lokpanta Cattle Market in Umunneochi Local Government Area of Abia.
The leader of the delegation told NAN that the team was in the South-East to verify the federal government’s projects, which were captured in the 2018/2019 Appropriation.
He said that he was impressed with the quality and extent of job so far executed on the two sections of the dual carriageway.
He expressed the confidence that the project could be completed in record time with regular and sustained funding.
He said: “I hope that with what is on ground at the moment, the contractors are doing a quality job.
“I also believe that they will complete the project as promised, if the Sukuk is sustained as they have requested.”
Elikwu also advised the contractors to carryout palliatives on some of the failed portions of the expressway because of the envisaged heavy traffic during the Christmas festivities.
He said that such a measure would help to alleviate the plight of motorists by making the dilapidated portions passable.