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Nigeria Halts Road Project Over Substandard Work

Minister of Works orders suspension of reconstruction on East-West Road

by Victor Adetimilehin

Nigeria’s government has ordered the immediate suspension of reconstruction work on a vital section of the East-West Road in Rivers State, one of the country’s oil-rich regions.

The Minister of Works, David Umahi, announced the decision on Sunday after inspecting the Eleme-Onne section of the road, which connects the industrial hub of Port Harcourt with the rest of the country.

Umahi said he was dissatisfied with the quality and speed of the work done by the contractor, Reynolds Construction Company (RCC), which received an advance payment of N33 billion ($79 million) from the government in September 2023.

He accused the company of using substandard sand that would not withstand the heavy traffic and rainfall in the area, and of failing to comply with his earlier directive to remove and replace the sand.

“The project must benefit the people. The rainy season is coming in two months and the people will go ahead suffering,” Umahi said.

“You have our N33 billion. Do you know what the interest rate is every month on the bill? The president had to order me in September to come here and order the payment because some people in Rivers State went to see the president and we paid you N33 billion, since that time till now.”

He added: “The contractor is carrying out the job, but at snail speed. If we allow him even another five years he will not finish. So we are not going to allow him.”

In 2006, the government initiated the East-West Road project, which spans about 700 kilometers across five states in the Niger Delta region, to boost economic development and facilitate the movement of goods and people.

Delays, funding shortfalls, and poor maintenance have plagued the road that links major oil and gas facilities, ports, and industrial zones, leading to frequent accidents, gridlocks, and protests by residents and commuters.

Umahi said he would hold a meeting with the contractor and other relevant parties to address the issues and agree on a new timeline and standard for the project.

Umahi also appealed to the people of the region to be patient and supportive of the government’s efforts to deliver quality infrastructure.

He expressed optimism that the suspension of the work would not affect the economic activities and security of the region, as alternative routes were available for the users of the road.

Source: Punch

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