The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Steve Oru, on Monday in Abuja said the 2014 timeline for the completion of the East West road is not realistic because the project is poorly funded.
Mr. Oru made this known when he met with the House of Representatives Committee on Niger Delta.
He blamed the inability of the contractors handling the road project to complete the work as schedule on the rough terrain and effects of climate change.
“Other reasons affecting projects executed by the ministry include poor funding and partial release of budgetary allocations,” the minister said.
Mr. Oru said that so far, the N349 billion, 338 kilometre long road dual carriage project had achieved 79.42 per cent.
He said that completion of some aspects of the construction of the bridge over River Nun at Kaiama might be extended to April 2015.
Mr. Oru said that the same would go for final asphalt wearing course on one of the dual carriage ways between Kaiama and Mbiama.
The minister recalled that the road was awarded in four sections to three contractors and scheduled for substantial completion by the end of 2014.
He promised that progress of work would be much higher in the dry months ahead.
“Out of the total length of 676 km (338X2) carriage way, about 535.13 km of earthworks, 470.32 km of asphaltic binder course and 398.36km of wearing course have been completed to date.
“Also completed are 921 culverts out of the 1013 numbers.
“Thirty seven bridges have been substantially completed out of the 41 bridges which include the second Imo River Bridge (850M long) and Okoso bridges (288m long) in the zone,”Mr. Oru said.
He said that the ministry planned to extend the East-West road from Oron in Akwa Ibom to Calabar, Cross River state.
He said this was to enhance the full potential of the entire East-West Corridor from Warri (Effurun) in Delta to Oron in Akwa Ibom.
Earlier, the Chairman of the Committee, Rep. Warman Ogoriba (PDP Bayelsa), urged the ministry to put more pressure on the contractors to ensure speedy completion of the project.
According to him, the East-West road is very important to the people of Niger Delta and indeed Nigerians.
“That is why we are calling on the minister to tell us specifically when this road would be handed over to the Nigerian people.
“We got few conflicting figures from the ministry on how much it has paid out to contractors.
“I think it should reconcile its figures, although we are not saying that there is misappropriation of funds,” he stressed.