Business Hilights
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What is happening to Lagos-Calabar railway, completion of East-West road all in N/Delta?

Considering the charged atmosphere leading to the final inclusion of the N700bn Lagos-Calabar railway scheme, in the 2017 budget, observers believe that construction activities will begin as soon as the 2017 budget is passed into law.

However, a scenario of hopelessness is emerging along the East-West road construction scheme since 2006.

Business Hilights recalls that when former President Olusegun Obasanjo awarded the contract for the project late in 2006 in the heat of violent agitations by youths of the Niger Delta, jubilation rented the entire Niger Delta region as the road will deepen the development and accessibility potentials of the region.

It was meant to come as a 675km dual-carriageway meant to open up the entire Niger Delta states, linking them one to another as well as with the industrialized South-West region of Nigeria, the East West Road stretches from Calabar in Cross River State to Warri in Delta State, with an additional 23.9km included by former President Goodluck Jonathan to link Calabar with the oceanic town of Oron in Akwa Ibom State.

On delivery the road would be a great relief to Niger Deltans because before the road was conceived, a traveller from the eastern wing of the Niger Delta would go through Aba, Owerri, Onitsha and Asaba before linking up to Benin and from there to Lagos or any other part of the South-West.

Originally, the road was conceived to link all major oil towns, beginning from Oron in Uyo to Calabar across Cross River and the Atlantic Ocean, up to Itu and Eket (AkwaIbom), Port Harcourt and Ahoada (Rivers), Kaiama (Bayelsa), and Warri (Delta), up to Benin. From there, a traveller to Lagos would link up Okada Town (Edo), straight down to Ore, Sagamu, and then Lagos.

The chances of early delivery seem to hanging because it was among the listed roads for delivery as soon as possible.

However, 11 years after, controversies still trail the project despite huge sums so far sunk into it. The project is far from completed even as road users lament the bad state of several sections of the road.

Key challenge of the road stemmed from fact that it was only when former Obasanjo left office in 2007, that stakeholders realised that it was an empty award. The first problem discovered was that the road had no design, and experts said it was impossible to execute any engineering project without a design that would assist in estimating the cost.

Another hiccup was that the N211 billion which was the projected cost was not even captured in the 2007 budget, rendering it null and avoid since no such contract award could be realistic without budgetary cover.

Momentary respite came when Goodluck Jonathan became President as soon after his victory in 2011, he revised the costs to N726 billion. Officials of the Niger Delta Ministry said the cost reflected the designs which were absent in the 2006 contract sum.

Upon all the hopes raised by Jonathan, he never delivered the road to his people and second Niger Bridge to the easterners.

Though the current Minister of Works, Housing and Power, Babatunde Fashola recently made promises that work will peak on the road very soon, nothing seems to be happening but serious works are ongoing in other road contracts awarded in other regions of the country.