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Umahi : FG has released N17bn for Abuja-Kano highway, says another N23bn underway

The Federal Government says it has released N17 billion to the contractor handling the Abuja-Kaduna-Kano highway to hasten completion of the project.
It also stated that all sections of the Abuja-Kaduna-Kano highway will be completed in 24 months.

The Minister of Works, David Umahi, disclosed this during an inspection of the Abuja-Kaduna section of the highway on Friday.

Umahi, who was accompanied by the Minister of Finance and Coordinating Economy, Wale Edun, said the government made the new timeline after reaching an agreement with the contractor of the road, Julius Berger Construction Company.

A week ago, the minister had promised to complete the road this year, reminiscent of numerous assurances on several occasions to complete the project since December 20, 2018, when the contract was awarded.

In October 2022, the former minister of State, Works and Housing, Umar El-Yakub, said work on the Kaduna-Abuja highway, and Zaria-Kano road would be completed in early 2023 to reduce negative effects on road users.

Similarly, the former Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, in April 2023 stated that the past administration could not fulfill its promise due to security challenges experienced in 2022 and the relocation of some communities on the Zaria section of the 265km road project.

The road which would have been completed, according to design, dragged on till the end of Fashola’s tenure with only the Kaduna to Zaria section completed from the three sections.

Speaking during the inspection, Umahi blamed the delay on a paucity of funds but assured of the government’s commitment to end the road on time, adding that payment of N17bn has been approved and other finances would be endorsed in due course.

“This is the second time I have inspected this road since we came in and it shows you how much Mr President is in touch with happenings all over the country. He directed us to move in and provide lasting solutions here.

“And I can inform you that The Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority has been informed to pay the contractor the outstanding certificate of N17bn. then another certificate of N23bn is already being processed and so we assure you that funding will no longer be a problem.”

Explaining reasons for the new date, the former Ebonyi governor disclosed that the new date was set because Julius Berger agreed to complete 15 kilometers every month.

“We are looking at 24 months to finish the project, it can only be Berger that will finish in 24 months. So with an assured financing model by the Minister of Finance, it will be completed. The total section of 290km dual way is uncompleted but if we look at the total four sections, we are looking at 15km completion every month, which is very serious and a tall order.”

“The total road length is 375km, which is equivalent to 750km of dual lane. Now, Kaduna to Zaria is completed. We have only 20km left between Zaria and Kano. We are looking at redesigning it, with concrete pavement. Already the contractor is aware. I know we have the issue differences in terms of reviewing the contract price but we’ve sorted all that out and I’m happy we have progressed. We’ve sent the geotechnical team to re-examine the strength of the subgrade,” he added.

On his part, Edun stressed that the timely completion of the road remains a top priority for President Bola Tinubu, who views road infrastructure as a key element in revitalising and stabilising the nation’s economy.

He added that infrastructure is a critical priority of this administration and a source of getting food prices down through good transportation, and easy transportation of agricultural products.

Edun said, “As the Coordinating Minister of the economy in line with the mandate of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, we are here to get commitment from the contractor and encourage them.”

“We are headed for a dry season and eventually the harvest season so we want the goods to move freely across the country. That will bring down food prices; that will bring down inflation and then stabilize the economy and then we’ll be doing more.”

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