Minister of Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola.

By Abasifreke Effiong

After three years of rigmarole and inability to raise fund for the dualisation of Calabar-Itu road, the federal government has adopted a new funding approach for the road project.

President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration could not raise enough money in its annual budgets in 2018 and 2019 to commence dualization of Calabar-Itu road, after repeated promises.

Minister of Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola (SAN), said the Calabar-Itu road would henceforth be financed from Sukuk funds.

Calabar-Itu road links Akwa Ibom and Cross River states. Indigenes of Akwa Ibom and Cross River blocked the road for five days in December 2019 to protest its dilapidation.

Commuters from the two states have resorted to maritime transportation despite its attendant threats.

The Dune had reported previous that travelling from Uyo to Calabar is dangerous on road, convenient on sea.

During a recent visit to the project site, Fashola said that the ministry had made an application for the Itu-Odukpani road to be financed from the Sukuk funds, so that the project would not be delayed further.

The federal government’s announcement of the new funding approach for the road is coming barely a month after the Special Assistant to President on Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Ita Enang, urged the federal government to seek alternative funding for the project.

Enang who was addressing journalists in Uyo after he inspected palliative intervention on the road, noted that the road project might not be feasibility under the budgetary provisions it received between 2018 and 2022.

After three years of rigmarole, FG announces new funding plan for Calabar-Itu road> Commuters and cars stranded on Calabar-Itu road. (Photo taken in October 2019.)

The Dune learnt that the federal government was expected to pay N10 billion as mobilisation to Julius Berger for the commencement of the project.

The said amount could not be raised in the federal government’s budget in three years. The federal government could only secure N1billion and N1.1billion in its 2019 and 2020; after an initial N7billion approved in 2018 budget.

During his recent visit, Fashola told the contractor handling the project, Julius Berger Nigeria Plc, that the new funding strategy evolved by the government for the road is to ensure that the work is not delayed any longer because of financial constraints.

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The minister said there was no going back on the new funding strategy and completion of the Calabar-Itu road which he described as “a strategically important road” in the country.

After three years of rigmarole, FG announces new funding plan for Calabar-Itu road Senator Ita Enang, Special Assistant to the President on Niger Delta Affairs, during an assessment of the road.

“The Buhari administration will deliver the high priority Itu-Odukpani-Calabar road,” Fashola said.

Fashola urged the contractor to, in the interim, work and remedy the bad portions of the road to make it motorable during the rainy season.

Julius Berger’s regional manager for South-East and South-South Operations, Engr. Jurgen Fischer, was received the minister during the visit assured Fashola of the company’s commitment to delivering on its contractual obligations on the Itu-Odukpani road project.

Officials of the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing on the minister’s entourage were the federal controller of Works in Akwa Ibom State, Engr Nkereuwen Ukpong and the Director, federal highways, Engr. Godwin Eke.