The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Pastor Usani Uguru Usani, says the Federal Government has approved N100 billion for the completion of sections 1 to 4 of the East-West road project.
Usani, who disclosed this at a meeting with the Host Communities of Nigeria Producing Oil and Gas (HOSTCOM), led by its national chairman, Dr Benjamin Tamaranebi, on Tuesday, added that the China Export-Import bank had also agreed to support the construction of Section 5 of the East-West road from Oron to Calabar, with $500m, while the Federal Government pays counterpart funding.
It could be recalled that the findings from a presidential inter-ministerial team on an assessment tour of sections 1 to 4 of the East-West road – from Warri, Delta state to Oron, Akwa Ibom State – in 2018, showed that contractors would require about N100bn to complete the four sections of the flagship project in the Niger Delta region.
The minister said the submission from the committee culminated in the approval of the fund, adding that the Federal Government was at the verge of awarding the contract with a new design.
He also stated that the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority would monitor the completion of sections 1 to 4 of the road, saying that the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs had given its nod to the directive of the presidency that the N100 billion should be paid directly to the contractors from the Federation Account.
He stated further that the Federal Government has also directed that the gas flare penalty fine being requested by the host communities, be released to them.
The Minister of State for Niger Delta Affairs, Prof. Claudius Omoleye Daramola, however, decried a situation where contracts were awarded to the indigenes of the Niger Delta region, but they ended up abandoning them after payment.
He said decisive action would be taken to address such occurrences, stressing that “We are doing our best to see how all the communities in the Niger Delta region will benefit from government projects, activities and programmes.”
Prof. Daramola disclosed that all completed projects in the region by the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs would be handed over to the benefitting communities in due course.
HOSTCOM chairman, High Chief (Dr.) Style Benjamin Tamaranebi,, said their visit was to seek the Federal Government’s collaboration through the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs in a bid to address the challenges of various communities in the Niger Delta region.
He said the gas flare fund approved during the late President Musa Yar’adua administration had been paid to FIRS account and urged the FG to help in the release of the fund to alleviate the suffering of people from the region.
“Our farmland, rivers, ecosystem, livelihoods have been destroyed by pollution and our people are suffering. If this fund is released, it will help reduce the pain in the region,” Tamaranebi said.