20 April 2014, Abuja – Mr. Darius Ishaku, the Supervising Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, over the weekend appealed to the Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme (SURE-P) to increase funding for the East-West road.
Ishaku made the appeal during a courtesy visit to the Chairman of SURE-P, Retired General Martin Agwai in Abuja.
The minister was there to brief the chairman on the progress made on the East-West road project.
He said that the intervention by SURE-P in 2013 had contributed immensely toward the realisation of the project.
He said that the provision of N30 billion for the project in the 2014 budget of the ministry was inadequate.
He pointed out that if more money was not made available, the target date would not be realisable.
He further emphasised the urgent need to complete the 15-kilometer Port-Harcourt-Onne portion of the road to reduce traffic holdup in the city.
“I can assure that the work will continue and also be concluded once the funding issue is addressed,” he said.
Ishaku highlighted the economic importance of the road to the nation and urged the management of SURE-P to consider an increase in the budgetary provisions it made for the road project in 2014.
Responding, Agwai said the committee was mandated by the president to accelerate Nigeria’s economic transformation through investment in critical infrastructure to achieve Vision 20:20 20 of the Federal Government.
He applauded the minister for the positive impact he made recently in the Niger Delta region.
He said, “SURE-P has new projects to undertake in the 2014 budget in spite of competing demands on its lean resources,” he said.
He, however, emphasised that new strategies would be evolved in close collaboration with the ministry in completion of the project, which links diverse communities in the Niger Delta region.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the supervising minister had earlier said that the East-West Road project is 70 per cent completed.
Ishaku said that in spite of the budgetary provision and funds from African Development Bank (AfDB), a gap of N30 billion still existed.
He said that the Federal Government had committed the sum of N248 billion as at March.
He, however, added that the ministry had obtained a 300 million dollars loan from AfDB, adding that about 50 per-cent of this loan was released and committed to the 2013 financial year.
He further stressed that the total contract sum for the East West road was put at N349. 87billion and a total of N248 billion had so far been paid for the work done.