Lagos-Calabar Project: Atiku Misleading Nigerians-Umahi, Works Minister

Minister for Works, Senator David Umahi, Tuesday faulted former Vice President Atiku Abubakar for his criticism of the cost of the 700km Lagos-Calabar coastal highway project.

Umahi described Atiku’s statement as a gross misrepresentation of facts and figures, as well as a plot to mislead the public.

Responding to the analysis Atiku made on the coastal road project figures and the economic importance of the project, the minister said the comment was a gross misrepresentation of facts and figures and a ploy to mislead Nigerians by darkening counsel without knowledge.

The was contained in a statement signed by Orji Uchenna Orji, Special Adviser (Media), to the minister, stating that despite the skyrocketing cost of materials in the construction industry caused by the dynamics of commodity price inflation and supply chain disruptions.

“The administration of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu remained unmatched in prudence, cost-effectiveness, speed, and quality delivery of road projects”, Umahi reportedly said during his inspection visit to the ongoing rehabilitation of Enugu-Port Harcourt dual carriageway section 4 (Aba – Port Harcourt), being handled by China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation Ltd (CCECC).

The minister also visited the construction site of a 23-span flyover bridge project at Eke-Obinagu Junction (NNPC Depot), along Enugu Abakaliki Road in Enugu State, rehabilitation work at the collapsed bridge site at the New Artisan Bridge near NNPC mega filling station in Enugu Capital City, the rehabilitation of Enugu-Port Harcourt Expressway Section 3, Enugu-Lokpanta handled by CGC, the rehabilitation and reconstruction of Enugu-Port Harcourt dual carriageway section 2 (Umuahia Tower-Aba Township Rail/Road) in Abia State, and the reconstruction of the dualized 15km section of the East-West road section III: (Eleme Junction-Onne Port in Rivers State) being executed on reinforced concrete pavement like the coastal road.

He said that the Tinubu administration is committed to a diversified and sustainable economic future for the country, adding that what the president was doing in the works sector was aggressive infrastructure development that would provide access to trade, tourism, industrialization, and safety, especially along the local economic corridors.

According to Umahi, “He doesn’t understand figures. I am going to run figures for him to understand, and he will understand how prudent the administration of President Tinubu has been. He will understand how prudency is taking the center stage in this administration.

“The President has once queried me on the cost of ongoing projects nationwide.

I had to analyze every basic rate of construction materials to arrive at our unit rates. I showed it to Mr. President.

“He still thinks I should bring down the cost of projects. At the same time, the contractors are crying that I am oppressing them so much by reviewing the costs of their projects downwards.” They lamented that what they were getting before, they are no longer getting it now.

They cried out. But when I run the figures, Nigerians will see what this present administration is doing. “So, I’m not here to run the figures now. I will do that in a press conference on my visit to Lagos from 10th April 2024 to 12th April 2024.” On the economic importance of the coastal highway, Umahi stated: “I will tell you the economic benefits of the project and how the coastal road is tying the entire country together. It’s not just South-South and South-West. It is tying the North and South together.

We are starting a project from Badagry to Sokoto, and we have a spur on this coastal route to that route and the African Trans Sahara Road that is passing from Enugu to Abakaliki to Ogoja to Cameroon, which has a spur to the North. “His Excellency, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, may not know that the third section of the project is starting in Calabar by July 2024. The minister commended the pace and quality of work on the projects he visited but emphasized the need for the contractors to adhere to the project delivery timeline.

On the progress of work at the East-West Road section III, the minister said: “The reinforcement is very good, the concrete is very good, the speed is not very good, so they have to increase their speed.

If RCC doesn’t increase their pace, I will take out a portion of this road and give it to another contractor. We will not want contractors to stay on a job like this 15 km dualization for two years or more.”

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