The Federal Ministry of Works (FMoW) has reiterated its commitment towards accomplishing the completion of the full reconstruction of the 49-km Umuahia-Ikwuano-Ikot Ekpene Federal Road project despite obvious bottlenecks and daunting challenges.
The Works ministry made this known at a Town hall meeting convened by Indigenes of Ikwuano under the umbrella of the Ikwuano Federated Unions which saw the convergence of major stakeholders in Ikwuano, Senior Officials of the FMoW, officials of Hartland Construction Company LTD; the construction company handling the Umuahia-Ikwuano-Ikot Ekpene Road project amongst others.
Speaking at the meeting, the Federal Controller of Works, Abia state, Tochukwu Onwubiko noted that though the challenges impeding on the timely completion of the project were enormous, they were not insurmountable as he mentioned variations in the cost of materials from when it was first awarded in 2019 for 13.2 billion naira such as fuel, diesel and every other material required for road construction projects.
Onwubiko also reiterated that the prevailing heavy rains was also a major challenge alongside the issue of compensation as the federal government has stopped paying compensation to indigenes for costs incurred during demolition stressing that under the Land Use Act of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, land is owned by states hence states will pay any compensation relating to right of way issues.
When the President General of Ikwuano Development Union Dr. Charles Uzondu raised the possibility of Governor Alex Otti taking over the portion of the road stretching to Ndoro (within the Umuahia Capital Territory Area), the Federal Controller reported that the Governor has had some inquiries about the suggestion but stressed that it would be cheaper for the Governor to tackle the issue of compensation (since the road is already under contract) than to attempt to award it from scratch as the Federal Government would not, under any circumstance, permit such double contract on a Federal Road.
The Federal Controller urged Ikwuano people to thank their son, the immediate past member that represented Ikwuano/Umuahia Federal Constituency Hon. Sam Onuigbo, the facilitator of the project whom he said did not rest on his oars even after it was first awarded in 2019 and was not funded, but fought very hard to move the project to NNPC Tax Credit Scheme stressing that the only roads constructed and completed today are those under special funding.
Speaking earlier, president general of the Ikwuano Federated Unions Dr. Charles Uzondu stressed their displeasure on the level of work so far done on the road noting that youths of Ikwuano were unhappy and that Ikwuano indigenes will call the attention of the Abia state government to the project.
He further called on the Federal Ministry of Works to come up with exact data as to the cost of compensation of right of way in terms of millage and kilometers in order to aid the indigenes contribute their quota in solving the issue of compensation vis-à-vis talking to the people who own the properties or even approaching the Governor to come in in that regard.