Nigeria still requires about N179 billion to complete the East-West road.
Six expatriates working on the East West road were kidnapped between November and December 2012, the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godsday Orubebe, said on Tuesday.
Two people were also killed while several others were injured during the attacks, the minister added during an interactive session with the House of Representatives Committee on Niger Delta and contractors handling the road.
Mr. Orubebe said that kidnapping of expatriates handling the road project caused tension which led to low morale at sites.
He added that the tension even affected the ministry as families of expatriates who were kidnapped called to inquire about their relations.
“The kidnapping of six expatriates working in the area between November and December 2012, with two lives lost and several others injured, led to the suspension of site activities in both sections 1 and II of the road,’’ he said.
“The latest kidnapping happened in Warri when an expatriate was kidnapped and his driver, a mobile police officer was killed,” he said.
He said the ministry now attached four military men to each of the expatriates.
The insecurity in the Niger Delta is one of the two major reasons the all important road has not been completed, according to Mr. Orubebe. The other reason is insufficient funds.
Lack of funds
Mr. Orubebe also identified inadequate funding as a major challenge threatening the completion of the East-West road project.
“The 338km national dual carriage way that traverses the heart of the Niger Delta region had suffered a lot of challenges because of inadequate funding and insecurity in the region,” he said.
The minister said that total indebtedness to contractors handling the project was N9.2 billion, while N179.2 billion was required to complete the project.
“Government recently secured a loan of $300 million (N45 billion) from the African Development Bank Group which will be released before the end of October.
“The N11.7 billion proposed by SURE-P for 2014 will be grossly inadequate if the ministry’s budget for 2013 is adopted for next year, ” he said.
Mr. Orubebe said in spite of high rainfall recorded in the area in January, the ministry was determined to complete the project by the end of 2014.
The Chairman of the House Committee, Warman Ogoriba (PDP-Bayelsa), said that the session was meant to assess the challenges facing the completion of the project.
“Tell us the problems you are facing in completing the project, “he said, and described the road as “a source of concern to all Nigerians”.
The Managing Director, Reynolds Construction Company (RCC) Nigeria Ltd, one of the contractors handling the project, Mouassa Wakhla, said that insecurity and inadequate funding were affecting the pace of work.
He said that if both issues were addressed by the government, the project would be completed as scheduled.
“If you want us to finish the work, we need funding so that we can finish and go,” he said.
Other contractors who attended the session included GITTO Nigeria Ltd. and Setraco Nigeria Ltd.