The Enugu State Executive Council has approved funds for road repairs in the state, saying a total of 1,250 kilometres of roads had been slated for rehabilitation, reconstruction and expansion in the next one year.
Briefing newsmen shortly after the State Executive Council meeting held at the Government House, Enugu, Friday evening, the Commissioner for Information and Communication, Aka Eze Aka, said the road repairs were delayed by the rains, stressing that roads asphalted during the rainy season do not last more than a few years, whereas the state government was planning to build roads with up to 30 years lifespan.
Eze, who was flanked by the Commissioners for Finance and Economic Development, Dr. Nathaniel Uramah; Works and Infrastructure, Engr Gerald Otiji; and the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Dr. Kingsley Udeh, apologized to the people of the state for the pains they were going through due to the poor condition of the roads, urging them to be a little more patient as repair and reconstruction works were about to commence.
Giving more details on the decisions of the Council, the Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure, Engr Gerald Otiji reiterated that a total of 71 urban roads and 10 rural roads would be rehabilitated under the first phase, assuring that work would commence in the next few days and weeks.
“The Executive Council today approved the release of funds for us to commence work. We apologize to Ndi Enugu for the plights they are going through as a result of the potholes on our roads. You will bear me witness that by the time we pronounced the 81 roads for repairs and reconstruction, the rains continued unabatedly. You all should know that the worst enemy of asphalt is water. We have been watching the situation using metrological instruments to know how soon to commence work.
“I want to also let you know that the governor knows about the plight of our people. He personally joined us in the inspection of all the streets slated for repairs in Enugu metropolis. We went to Emene, we went to Abakpa market, we were at Trans Ekulu, Iva Valley, Coal Camp, Idaw River, Awkunanaw, Achara Layout, Uwani, Kenyatta, Zik Avenue, Ogui Road, New Layout, Premier Layout/Goshen area, the New Enugu area, New Heaven and Independence Layout.
“In all these areas, we have identified the major bottlenecks, the repairs and reconstruction will commence in the next few days and weeks, and we will strictly follow the due process in doing so. The repair works on most of them will go on at the same time”, he said.
Engr Otiji said the Council also approved some strategic rural and inter-local government roads selected to ensure spread across the three senatorial zones of the state, noting that more of such roads would be captured in next year’s budget. He listed the roads as the Owo – Ubahu – Amankanu – Neke – Ikem road, planned as a dual carriageway to connect the Obollo Afor without passing through Enugu city, opening an alternative major traffic corridor to Abuja and the North Central market; dualization of the Abakpa Nike – Ugwuogo Nike – Opi road; the Amechi Idodo – Amagunze road, an entirely new single carriageway with two bridges to link communities in Nkanu East LGA by road for the first time; the Ama brewery junction – Eke – Akama Oghe – Iwollo – Umulokpa road linking Uzo Uwani LGA with a spur to Aguobu Owa in Ezeagu LGA; and the Akwuke Road in Enugu South LGA, from the Police Station through Gariki to the site of the proposed mass housing project in the area.
He said the Abakaliki road from the airport flyover to the Ebonyi State border would also be dualized in collaboration with the federal government, adding that the state government had held discussions with the Minister of Works, Engr. Dave Umahi, on how to speed up works on the Enugu end of the Enugu-Onitsha expressway.
“The Executive Council also approved funds for ‘Operation Zero Pothole Tolerance’ in Enugu metropolis. Because of the paucity of funds, we would want to touch every single street, but definitely we will do so bit by bit”, he said.
On the recent collapse of a bridge at the Enugu end of the Enugu-Port Harcourt expressway, Engr Otiji sympathized with the people of the state for the hardships they were passing through due to the traffic gridlocks following the collapse, expressing hope that remedial interventions were imminent.
“We are aware of the untold hardship the broken bridge has caused on people and the enormous wear and tear it is causing on our roads. Yesterday, we had meetings with the Minster of Works in Abuja, and as at that yesterday, the integrity of the second bridge was checked. Our intention is to strengthen that bridge so that we can divert traffic on it, repair the collapsed part, and then repair the second one. That is on-going. Only on Wednesday, one of our own, Hon. Nnolim Nnaji representing Nkanu East and West Federal Constituency raised a motion about it on the floor of the House of Representatives and instantly, the House passed a resolution for the minister to access the funds that he needs”, he said.
On the sources of funding for the road projects, the Commissioner for Finance and Economic Development, Dr. Nathaniel Uramah said they could not be funded from the meagre accruals from the federal allocations, saying the government was relying on enhanced internally generated revenues.
He said: “The question people have been asking is, ‘how do we finance the road projects that run into billions of naira?’ You can see we are making tremendous efforts to increase our internally generated revenues given the lean resources we are getting from the federation account. We are increasing our revenues by blocking loopholes in revenue collection. We have eliminated the use of contractors for revenue collection. We have also ended manual and cash payments to individuals and introduced the electronic ticketing system for accountability, openness, transparency, and fund traceability.
“We urge the public to cooperate with the Enugu State Board of Internal Revenue so that we can enhance revenue generation and be able to fund these projects. This administration is planning to embark on massive projects, which will require a lot of resources. So, we are imploring the people and residents of our state to support the government in making their little contributions to ensure that our internally generated revenue is collected seamlessly, seeing that what is collected will be utilised for the benefits of the masses. So, that is how these projects will be funded,” Dr. Uramah said.