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Dualisation Of Calabar-Itu Road gathers Steam After FG Approved Release of N185 billion 

Dualisation Of Calabar-Itu Road gathers Steam After FG Approved Release of N185 billion 

 
By Ekemini Simon

After years of misery, commuters on the Calabar-Itu road are beginning to heave a sigh of relief as work on the dualisation project of the road has gathered steam.


It is observed that contractors of the federal road project have resumed work on three of the four sections of the road.


The project awarded by the Federal Government at the sum of N185 billion cuts across Ikot Ekpene, Ibiono Ibom, and Itu local government areas in Akwa Ibom down to Odukpani local government area in Cross River State.


The first section of the road which starts from Ibiakpan junction in Ikot Ekpene to Mbak Ekid Itam in Itu local government area with a spur to Ididep in Ibiono Ibom local government areas is awarded to Chinese Civil Engineering and Construction Company, CCECC at the sum of N52.2 billion. However, it was observed that CCECC is yet to mobilize to site.

The second section beginning from Mbak Ekid Itam to Oku Iboku junction in Itu local government area was awarded to Julius Berger. When select journalists led by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Ita Enang, went on the spot assessment of work done, on Tuesday, December, 28, 2021, It was observed that Julius Berger has fully constructed the road with drains on both sides at about 3 kilometers from Mbak Ekid Itam to Ekim junction only. Ekim junction to Oku Iboku part of their project is yet to be attended to.


The third section which is 28.6 kilometers is awarded to Sermatech Engineering Nigeria Ltd at the sum of N79 billion, is to begin from Ikot Ebiyak in Oku Iboku to the Independent Power Plant at Ikot Nyong, Odukpani local government area of Cross River State. The project which is reported to have four major bridges and several culverts in its design has witnessed the clearance of over 7 kilometers and full earth work carried out to formation level of more than 2 kilometers. The company was still carrying out work despite the holidays.

 The fourth section of the road which begins from the power plant in Ikot Nyong to Odukpani junction is also awarded to Julius Berger. The total sum for the Julius Berger contract on both sections is N54 billion. At this section, it was observed that earthworks have been done in some sections. According to residents, payment of compensation for government approved structures and economic trees has also reached an appreciable stage. 

Backstory 

After several years of being in deplorable state, the Federal Executive Council on May 3, 2017 had awarded the contract for the dualization of Odukpani, Calabar-Itu Highway with a spur at Ididiep. 


Despite the contract, this federal road which links Cross River State and Akwa Ibom and the Northern states was lacking in funding thus has been in a deplorable state, subjecting commuters to severe suffering, risks and hundreds of accidents.

The Masterstroke Deal

The Federal Government and the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Ltd last week signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) of N621 billion to fund the construction of critical road infrastructure across the country.


The MoU on tax credit was signed in Abuja by the Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, on behalf of the Federal Government; the Chief Finance Officer of NNPC, represented by the General Manager International Energy Relations, Mr Garba Hadejia; and the Executive Chairman of Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Mr Muhammed Nami.


The MoU on tax credit was to actualise the Executive Order 007 given in 2019 which ensures compliance to road infrastructure development in the country.


While signing the deal, the Minister of Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola said the N621 billion will address over 21 roads that cover 1800 kilometres.


Fashola said that a governance structure had been put in place to ensure that no contractor would ask for an increase in price and that FIRS has 5 days to certify all contractor certificates and NNPC had 30 days to pay up.


He said this had given more confidence to contractors of the assurance to get paid and urged them to mobilise their staff, equipment, supplies back to site.


The reconstruction of these roads are being executed via a strategic intervention under the Federal Government Road Infrastructure and Refreshment Tax Credit Scheme with 9 of the selected projects in North-central, 3 in North-east, 2 in North-west, 2 in South-east, 3 in South-south, and 2 in South-west.


Assurances of Completion

Addressing journalists, Senator Ita Enang, said the tax credit funding option gives hope that the project will be completed at the stipulated time. 


” With the tax credit released by NNPC and documents signed, almost everything will begin on the entire stretch of this road to Odukpani junction.”


He thanked President Muhammadu Buhari for approving a new funding option for the road noting that it will address the plight faced on the road.

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The President’s Aide said it is gladdening that out of the N621 billion tax credit for 21 roads across the federation, about 30 percent (N185 billion) would be spent on the stretch of the project.


Enang added ” The road was designed for dualization in 1972. Only one lane of the dual carriage was constructed believing that we will construct the other as the day passes by. That day has only come in the days of President Buhari. Buhari has assured the road will be completed within time.


” The aim is to have a situation where we return to when a distance drive from Uyo to Calabar was 45 to 50 minutes drive, not 6 and 8 hours or a situation where people divert and take Oron to Calabar by water. It was as bad as that. We are happy that this is addressed by the President’s team through the Federal Ministry of Works and Niger Delta Affairs.”

The President’s Aide commended Sermatech Engineering for making the road motorable and not relenting to work on the road during the yuletide holidays. He said it was important Julius Berger learn from Sermatech especially in making its section of the road motorable.


 The village head of Ikot Ebiyak in Oku Iboku, Itu local government area, Eteidung Bassey Ikotidem, thanked the federal government for progress witnessed on the project.


“We are happy for one, Sermatech has been able to keep this section of the road motorable for vehicles to keep passing. For some time now, motorists have refused to come here, we were cut off right from Nkim Itam because of the bad road. But I am happy that the contractors have been able to keep it to the level that we have seen now.”


Eteidung Ikotidem called on Julius Berger to water the road to reduce dust.
The youth President of Ikot Ebiyak, Mr.Owoidoho Anana, thanked the federal government for awarding the road for full dualisation and appealed to the federal government to ensure adequate supervision and monitoring of the project.


On his part, the site manager of Sermatech Engineering, Engr. Joseph Ukpata, noted that the company has fully mobilised to site. He said the strides recorded so far are within a month of mobilisation to site.


He said the company has made provision for four teams to work on the road project even as they would be bringing in Philippines expatriates in January to support its local content, especially the bridge construction, thus reducing its delivery date from five years to about two years precisely in April 2023.


Engr. Ukpata added ” We had to revise the project when we discovered that NNPC was to fund the project. We are looking at delivering the project in April 2023.”

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