South East governors have asked for the review of the completion period of 2nd Niger Bridge from 42 months to 24 months. They also requested that payment for the project’s contract sum of N206 billion be increased to 50 percent from the current N7 billion that has been released to the contractor, Julius Berger.
Ebonyi Governor, Dave Umahi, who is the Chairman of South East Governors Forum, disclosed this to State House Correspondents after the delegation met with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Umahi, who said the meeting was mainly on infrastructural development of the region denied that it had any political undertone nor was it a bargaining chip for the 2019 general elections.
He said, “We came to thank Mr. President on behalf of South East for the award of the Second Niger Bridge to Julius Berger at the sum of N206 billion.
“We understand that N7 billion has been paid as mobilization, so we came to ask Mr. President if there is the possibility of paying up to 50 percent of the sum and secure the other 50 percent as bond so that we can sleep with our two eyes closed and be assured that the job will not be abandoned.
“And we also asked that the construction period be reduced from 42 months to 24 months. We made it clear to Julius Berger that it is achievable.
“We are also asking for economic free trade zone in Eyimba in Abia and he promised to come and commissioned it, the license has been given. We also thanked him for that economic free trade zone.
“And then we talked about the Enugu international airport, we asked him to deploy the cargo section of the airport, complete the building, extend the runway and also rebuild the runway because it is very bumpy and the tarmac light is not functioning.
“We also thank him for the roads and we reminded him that the slow pace of work was attributed to the rains, now that the rains are gone the contractors are complaining of no funding. So we requested that he should do something about the funding.
“Of course we talked about the geometric power plant in Aba, we urged to assist in resolving whatever are the issues so that power will be deployed to the industrial clusters in Aba and environs.
“We reminded him that the Enugu state government has done quite a lot on the issue of relocating major infrastructure that has been obstructing smooth operations of lives. We requested that he should take over the compensations of the affected lands.
“And of course the issue of gas distribution should be linked to the five eastern states to the industrial clusters, so as to boost economic activities.
“The railway of course, we complained that the western corridor is going on and the eastern corridor has not been awarded. And the eastern corridor goes through Port Harcourt, Aba, Ebonyi, Enugu, Maiduguri. We requested that the contract should be awarded so that we can benefit from that project.”
On if this was a bargaining chip for 2019 elections, Umahi said, “It has no political intentions because these are economic issues and they are not new.”
Asked if the President reached out to them to support him in 2019, he replied, “There was no political discussion.”
On the take away from the meeting, the Ebonyi governor said, “Well, he has assured us that he is going to look into the issues and of course in the railway we were given a cheering news that not only that the railway will be awarded, but that it will touch all states capitals in south east and it will also touch most of other state capitals as it moves from south east to Maiduguri.
And there will also be a port that will be added to it and it will cost about $12 billion. He said they are yet to bring it to federal executive council meeting, so they intend to do so.
“And of course with the borrowing plan being approved by the senate, they are going to fastrack the issue of construction in the south east.”