GOV OTTI FLAGS OFF RECONSTRUCTION OF PORT HARCOURT ROAD ABA, SAYS JINX FINALLY BROKEN
Abia State Governor, Dr. Alex Otti, OFR, on Thursday flagged off the reconstruction of the long-abandoned Port Harcourt Road, a major artery that holds immense promise in the economic and social revival of Aba, the commercial nerve of Abia.
The currently disused road, which was constructed during the adminstration of the late Sam Mbakwe (between 1979 – 1983) of old Imo State, was once a bustling hub for economic activities but left to deteriorate over the past two decades by successive administrations.
Speaking during the event in a speech titled, “Building On A Solid Rock Of Excellence”, Governor Otti expressed his unwavering commitment to restore the road to its former glory and make it even more economically viable.
“I’m glad that we are taking yet another strategic step in fulfilling one of my major campaign promises which is to permanently break the jinx of Port Harcourt Road, Aba, and revive the long-abandoned economic activities along this corridor; activities that once gave Aba a set of peculiar advantages, starting from the early 1980s when our revered leader, Dee Sam Mbakwe, Governor of Old Imo State, constructed this road to feed into the expansion of the booming oil industrial complex in Port Harcourt.
“Dee Sam’s vision gained a foothold almost immediately as this stretch of road became a major hub for the servicing of heavy-duty vehicles, equipment, spare parts, power generating sets and ancillary tools. In no time, this axis emerged as one of the busiest parts of Aba and a go-to destination for maintenance engineers, procurement officers and contractors working for the multinationals in Port Harcourt and environs, bringing immediate prosperity and a host of other economic and social advantages to the city of Aba.
“For about two decades, it was all bliss and blush for businesses around this area until things began to fall apart in the mid to late 1990s, followed quickly by the unfortunate collapse and abandonment of the 2000s.
“Nothing seemed to work thereafter. In time, the businesses, including those that had their corporate headquarters around here began to disappear, finding more favourable locations as it became clear that succeeding administrations did not have the will to make the right commitments to restore this stretch of road and sustain its economic advantages; until today,” Governor Otti recalled as he addressed the mammoth crowd that trooped out to witness the landmark flag-off.
The new Port Harcourt Road, according to the Commissioner for Works, Engr Otumchere Oti, is a total of 6.8 kilometres, made up of 5.7kms from the beginning of Port Harcourt Road by Ngwa Road to the end at the intersection with the Enugu-Umuahia-Aba-Port Harcourt Expressway by Alaoji and another 1.1kms from the intersection with Ngwa Road to the junction of Azikiwe Road by Asa Road.
The 5.7kms stretch of the road, originally a four-lane carriage, is now being reconstructed and expanded to six lanes with lay-bys and drainage system. The 1.1kms corridor, which yields into Port Harcourt Road, will be reconstructed as a four-lane carriage with lay-bys and drainage. The entire 6.8km road will be properly marked and fitted with solar powered street lights.
Governor Otti, who mounted one of the bulldozers and started the engine, symbolically flagging off the project, said that the reconstruction was not a mere political gesture for short-term gain but a holistic effort to restore the road’s durability and economic significance.
He pointed out that his administration enlisted the expertise of Julius Berger Plc, a renowned civil engineering company in Nigeria with a reputation for delivering landmark projects, to ensure the highest quality was achieved.
“For the purpose of clarity, we are not just talking about pouring asphalt or doing any haphazard job just for cheap political capital. We have brought Julius Berger here for some well-defined reasons: to do a holistic job of fixing the road, addressing the age-long flooding problems especially at notoriously problematic points using appropriate technology and expertise; and ultimately see to it that with very minimal maintenance at regular intervals, this road shall continue to support the existing, new and returning businesses and their activities for at the very least, another twenty years, post-commissioning.
“My team members and I, including the state commissioner for works and many senior engineering staff of the ministry, worked closely with the team from Julius Berger to ensure that the technical design and specifications adopted answered all the important questions regarding durability, reliability, flood control and other critical parameters,” the Governor explained.
According to him, the reconstruction of Port Harcourt Road will drive the economic rejuvenation of Aba and bring about the city’s economic development for investments to thrive.
He said that he was partly fulfilled that his administration had reached another milestone in what had been a very long process which started immediately after he was declared winner of the March 18, 2023 governorship election by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on the 22nd of March 2023.
He pledged to complete the payment to Julius Berger on schedule to avoid any setbacks arising from delayed payment, adding that the project had a delivery timeline of 18 months.
“My expectation is that whatever needs to be done to meet the target would be done, including working round the clock. On our own part, we have set up a robust financing structure to see that we complete the payment on schedule to eliminate any setbacks arising from payment delays,” Otti pointed out.
He expressed gratitude to the people of Aba for their patience and commitment to genuine change and urged them to cooperate fully with the construction team, assuring that the short-term sacrifices would lead to long-term benefits for the economic nerve center of the state.
The Governor further said that his administration’s ambition is to reset the fundamentals of the city by improving economically significant roads, waste management, and various social infrastructure as well as creating a conducive environment for businesses to thrive, create jobs and reduce poverty.
He assured the people that his administration was dedicated to delivering on its promises, adding that the forthcoming months would witness a significant transformation in the city’s infrastructure and economic landscape.
In his remarks, the Group managing Director of Julius Berger Nigeria Limited, Dr. Lars Richter, promised to deliver the project based on specification, describing the project as another milestone for the four months old administration of Governor Alex Otti.
He commended the Governor for his commitment to the infrastructural revolution of the state and thanked him for choosing Julius Berger to be part of his rebuilding agenda in the state.
The event which saw a mammoth crowd of supporters and admirers was attended by the Deputy Governor, Engr Ikechukwu Emetu, wife of the Governor, Mrs. Priscilla Otti, national and state legislators, captains of industry, among others.
Chief Press Secretary to the Governor
October 12, 2023
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