The Federal Government has assured the contractor handling the Itu-Odukpani road construction and rehabilitation project, Julius Berger Nigeria Plc, of a new funding strategy by the government for the contract to ensure that the works do not get delayed any longer due to financing constraints.
The assurance was given by the Honourable Minister of Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, SAN, during the Minister’s monitoring visit to the project site to officially inspect the extent of the ongoing works on the project last Thursday 13 February 2020.
The Minister said, going forward from his visit to the project, the Ministry has made an application for the Itu-Odukpani road works to henceforth be funded from the Sukuk funds steady infrastructural development works.
This piece of information excited the community people and the Permanent Secretary of the Akwa Ibom State Ministry of Works, Engr. John Itiat who was also on hand to receive the Minister at the project site.
Engr. Itiat, who also spoke at the event, thanked Mr Fashola for the good news that the project would henceforth be funded by the Sukuk funds without any further financing hitches occasioning operational delays.
Fashola commended the good commitment of the contractor, Julius Berger, to deliver on the Itu-Odukpani road construction and rehabilitation contract irrespective of challenges. The Minister pointed out to stakeholders present the real, visible and serious engineering works already done by the contractor on the road prior to unavoidable stoppage of work.
The Honourable Minister of Works, to the delight of stakeholders present at the event, maintained that there was no going back on the new funding strategy and successful completion of the Itu-Odukpani road, which he described as “a strategically important road” in the country.
Fashola then urged the contractor to, in the interim, work and remedy the very bad portions of the road to make it motorable during the rainy season. “The Buhari administration will deliver the high priority Itu-Odukpani-Calabar road”, Fashola assured in high spirits.
The Julius Berger Regional Manager South-east and South-south operations, Engr. Jurgen Fischer expressed the company’s appreciation to the government on the Minister’s heart-warming information that the project will now be funded to completion from the Sukuk funds.
Fischer assured the Honourable Minister of Julius Berger’s ready and unflinching commitment to, as always, deliver on its contractual obligations, even on the Itu-Odukpani Road project also.
It would be recalled that during an inspection visit to the project last year, the Director, Federal Highways, Engr. Godwin Eke had said that the Itu-Odukpani-Calabar road was intended by the Federal government to give its adjoining communities and the country at large better access to greater participation in economic activities.
Engr. Eke had during that visit described the road as a major Federal road that links towns out of Calabar through Ugep and Ogoja in Cross River State to Katsina-Ala in Benue State in the Northcentral zone as well as to the Northeastern geo-political zone.
The road, Engr. Eke said, also connects towns in Akwa Ibom State to the South-east and other South-south cities. The Director had said then that “the dualisation and successful completion of the Itu-Odukpani-Calabar road is strategically planned by the government to resolve traffic issues of the important road corridor.”
Among other senior officials of the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing who were on the Minister’s entourage was the Federal Controller of Works in Akwa-Ibom State Engr. Nkereuwen Ukpong and the Director, Federal Highways, Engr. Godwin Eke.
Engr. Jurgen Fischer led the Julius Berger delegation to receive the Honourable Minister. He was supported by the Julius Berger’s Project Coordinator in Uyo, Mrs Ndifreke Ukochio, the site Manager Engr. Christian Kloepfel and Engr. Kehinde Bakare. The head of the company’s Media Relations Department, Prince Moses Duku, was also in attendance at the event in Uyo.
Asked by Media correspondents on his reaction to the Minister’s comments on the revealed new Sukuk funding for the project, Prince Moses Duku said: “Our team leader the Regional Manager, Engr. Jurgen Fischer has said all that needs to be said on behalf of Julius Berger in appreciation of the Honourable Minister’s remarks. What more can I add, my dear friends.”