The Federal Government has increased the cost of constructing the Loko -Oweto road project from N7.9 billion awarded in 2010 to N9.5 billion.
The contract was reviewed on Wednesday during the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting presided over by the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Raji Fashola told State House correspondent shortly after the meeting that the revision for that contract was N1.6 billion extra because the contract was awarded using 2010 rates and the contractor asked for review to cushion cost and naira depreciations and council approved that.
The Loko-Osegudu-Oweto road links the road to that bridge on the Benue side that helps connect Nasarawa from the Loko side to Benue.
According to Fashola, the importance of the Loko-Uweto road, which we have substantially now completed is that it is the bridge that links the North and South of Nigeria.
He said, “Unlike the old Niger Bridge and the Second Niger Bridge, which link the East and the West, and linking the bridge reduces journey time from that part of the country and the eastern part of Nigeria,
especially people who link through Makurdi, Enugu and all of that coming to Abuja, it would reduce their journey time by a couple of about few days that it currently takes.
“The contractor is on site working and he would feel comforted now that at least his rates has been improved and expect that his certificate would be paid,” Fashola said.
On the height of the bridge, the minister explained, “we must understand first of all that bridges are not designed by imagination.
“There are international head room height standards for bridges on roads, bridges over water ways based on internationally determined height of ocean going vessels as well.
“Trailer, trucks, vessels and barges are built to certain minimum and maximum widths and certain minimum and maximum heights as well and these are global standards in the transport industry, so are rail heights that also carry containers.
“These things don’t happen by accident – they are interrelated disciplines and therefore, those who design bridges over water know what the minimum heights are and what the maximum heights allowable should be.
“We had this problem when we were building the Lekki link bridge. I recall people saying boats won’t be able to go over but by the time we finished those complains disappeared. So, I am sure that this would be the case. There should be no cause for alarm.
“In terms of end of the year, FERMA is doing its level best. They are part of our end of year team. For us in the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing, end of year means so many things;
it means heavy commuter activities, it means heavy cargo, also, in the ministry of my colleague, Transport and Aviation, passenger movement, goods, so, it is a pressure cooker time. Many people trying to share limited resources.
“So, what have done in Works? We have met with FRSC, we have met with FERMA and we have apportioned responsibilities of roads that FERMA will repair nationwide. They have that list. The MD should be able to provide that information.
“The FRSC have also earmarked routes where they would patrol. They have issued guideline for passenger behaviour.
We don’t want people who have no training in motor vehicle use, in essence, unlicensed and uncertified drivers must stay off the federal highway. We have given them the mandate because we want people to arrive safely.
“We have identified 53 major corridors across the country where our contractors have road construction but also bad portions, so Lokoja-Benin-Auchi is one of those sections and a couple of others, and the agreement we have reached with our contractors,
they will maintain working gangs for one and a half month period, till January 19 when things normalize. Our men will be working to ease movement nationwide.”
On the transport side, Fashola noted that one of the things the government has agreed was that all the directors have been deployed to their zones.
“None of the Controllers in going on leave till the end of January 19. So, this is a special operation because of the retreats we have been having and planning,” he said.
Meanwhile, the minister said that the government has also predicted power demand nationwide, where the movement will go.
He added that “power sector is also preparing to ensure that broken feeders, and all of those little things that constrain the distribution end can be dealt with in order to improve the experience because we know that weather is changing, temperatures are rising, people need more cold water, more fan and also the festive demand of the time.”