The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Umana Umana, on Wednesday, blamed insufficient budgetary appropriation for the delay in delivering the East-West road project.
Speaking while presenting President Muhammadu Buhari’s scorecard in the 12th edition of the media series in Abuja, he said: “The delays we have had over the years about the implementation of this project has to do with appropriation. The appropriation every year was clearly inadequate to support the execution.”
He said it was for this reason that the president directed that it should be handed over to the Ministry of Works and Housing, noting that it will now be funded along with other important projects under a special fund.
According to him, the years of delay in the implementation of the project necessitated reviewing aspects of it with the Federal Executive Council (FEC) recently approving a variation in the cost of some portions that are still outstanding.
He expressed confidence that with the financing agreement on the ground now, the project will soon be completed.
“I believe in a matter of time, we will have enough closure on the East-West road. I can say so confidently,” Umana declared.
The East-West road project is a dual carriageway project that spans a total length of 338km running from Warri through Port Harcourt to Oron, with a proposed extension to Calabar and with over 41 bridges.
The Minster said 291km out of the 338km dual carriageway had been completed as well as 41 bridges by the Ministry before the road project was transferred to the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing in 2021.
He said the ministry is constructing inter-state and other road projects in the Niger Delta region to increase the number of road infrastructures, saying that between 2015 and 2022, a total of 102.55km of roads and five bridges were completed just as 102 road projects are ongoing in the region and are at different completion levels.
“The commission has completed the construction of 1,454.26km Road and 2 Nos. (40M) Bridges within the period under review; and also, 27km (Ogbia-Nembe Road) was completed in collaboration with Shell Petroleum Development Company,” he stated.
On Housing projects, Umana said to address the deficit in the Niger Delta Region, the Ministry carried out the construction of 290 housing units with the provision of infrastructure in three selected Housing Estate at various completion levels.
He said the Ministry recently changed its policy on housing with a focus on completing the ones already awarded.
Speaking on Environmental projects, he said the Ministry carried out land reclamation and shoreline protection, embarkment for flood and erosion control, rehabilitation and reclamation of degraded eco-system, Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), engineering design, pollution control etc. in the nine states of the Niger Delta Region at the cost of N18,183,096,377.42 within the period under review.
It also established Agro-Processing plants to ensure food sufficiency and availability in the region and Nigeria in general.
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He added: “A total of N1,362,685,380.44 has so far been spent on the construction of Agro-Processing Plants in the Region, to achieve: 17 Nos. Agro-Processing Plants completed within the period under review; and 6 Nos. Agro-Processing Plants are ongoing in some states of the Niger Delta.
“Training, Empowerment & Human Capital Programmes on Training and Empowerment to reduce crimes and poverty, create wealth and ensure improved quality of lives through self-sufficiency in the Niger Delta Region.
“6,293Nos. of women and youths have been trained and empowered in various vocational, entrepreneurial and Agricultural skills with a total sum of N5,473,501,452. 00 only spent during the period under review.
“As part of the training, each beneficiary was given between N300,000 and N500,000 as Starter-Packs depending on the vocation.
“Furthermore, 12,896 people from 18 Communities in the Niger Delta Region benefitted from the Medical Outreach and enlightenment campaigns of the Ministry which encompass HIV/AIDS, Rollback Malaria and other healthcare Programmes at the cost of N310,717,126.00 within the period under review.
“Also, a total of N2,104,885,300.58 was spent in providing various empowerment materials such as Tricycles, Tractors, Sawing Machines, Grinding Machines, Hair Dressing Machines etc. to support off-farm vocations in the Region.
Ministry of Niger.”
On the maintenance of peace and security, the Minister noted that 4,964 participants from 19 communities in the nine states of the Niger Delta took part in the Ministry’s Peace and Security Engagement Programmes at a cost of N264,351, 860.00 within the period under review; and four meetings of the National Council on Niger Delta (NCND) with over 3,000 Stakeholders/participants costing N383,000,000.00 spent within the period.
Umana stated: “The Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs appreciates Mr. President for his support to the Ministry and the Niger Delta Development Commission in the achievement of these milestones so far.
“The level of peace and security, as well as socio-economic activities in the Niger Delta Region have improved significantly as a result of these interventions.”