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Abia State Governor, Mr. Alex Otti has expressed his readiness to commence the rehabilitation of several dilapidated federal roads in the state abandoned over the years.
When Engineer David Umahi, the Minister of Works, paid him a courtesy visit on Thursday to review ongoing federal road construction in the state, he informed him of his intentions.
Otti voiced the ongoing dissatisfaction of the Abia people with the state’s federal highways and the lack of political resolve to fix them.
He bemoaned the strain and suffering people go through trying to go from Port Harcourt to Aba and vice versa, stating that a trip that used to take 30 minutes is now up to three hours long.
The Abia chief executive lamented that the Abia economy has been suffering due to the poor condition of the Aba to Port Harcourt section of the Enugu – Port Harcourt expressway.
According to him, the dilapidated expressway has dealt a deadly blow to the markets in Aba, adding that he had already engaged a topnotch construction firm to do some palliative works and make one of the carriageways passable.
Otti listed a number of federal roads he would like to engage the works minister on for possible remedy. These include the Umuahia-Bende-Abriba-Ohafia road, down to Arochukwu.
He recalled that the reconstruction of this particular federal road was first awarded by the Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF) when former President Muhammadu Buhari was the Chairman under General Sani Abacha administration. It was abandoned and later re-awarded in 2011 by erstwhile President Goodluck Jonathan and was still abandoned.
‘If I’m able to find money, I will like to do the road and whenever he (Mr. President) is able to, he will reimburse us. We believe that we should support the Federal Government in delivering dividends of democracy to our people,’ the Abia Governor said.
Earlier in his remarks, Umahi noted that he had observed a lot of improvements in Abia in the course of his inspection of ongoing federal projects, adding that it was a testimony of Otti’s performance.
The Minister said that though he doesn’t believe in the culture of celebrating first 100 days in office, he could not shy away from commending Governor Otti for his remarkable achievements within a short period under review.
He said: “Let me thank you for a lot of improvements that you have done in the state just few months now. I don’t believe in 100 days in office, I don’t believe in two years in office, I believe in working for the people and let the people what you are doing.
“There is nothing meaningful that anybody who intends to work can achieve in 100 days. You may not even design a meaningful project in 100 days”.
Umahi, who is the immediate past Ebonyi State governor, linked Otti’s performance to the fact “you’ve been around, you understand the pains of your people”.
He said that Abia has about 11 ongoing federal road projects, including section one of the Port Harcourt-Enugu Expressway, which runs from Lokpanta to Abia Tower in Umuahia, and is hundred percent completed with a trailer park.
Umahi further stated that section two of the road runs from Umuahia Tower to Aba.
While he noted that the rehabilitation of the 49.2km Umuahia-Ikwuano – Ikot Ekpene road is ongoing, he pointed out that some other federal roads had been left unattended. These include Section of Nkporo-Abiriba-Ohafia Road, awarded in 2012, but abandoned; Bende-Arochukwu-Ohafia section one, awarded in 2018; Aba-Owerri Road, awarded in 2020, among others.
The minister asked Otti to assist in sorting out the issues affecting the delay in building of a trailer park at Arungwa Aba.
He said that the Abia government should provide the land and partner the federal government to develop it with the private sector.
Umahi was accompanied in the visit by the Deputy Chairman, Senate Committee on Public Accounts, Senator Onyekachi Nweobonyi, and Engr. B. U. Obioha, the Southeast Director Federal Highway, among others.