..Says Hon. Minister of Works, Raji Fashola
…As Chief of Staff to the President, Professor Ibrahim Gambari commends progress and quality of works by Julius Berger at project pre-commissioning inspection visit
The Federal Government yesterday reassured that work on the 375.4 Abuja-Kano Road (AKR), particularly at sections 2 at 3 (Kaduna-Zaria-Kano) will be completed and commissioned before the end of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration on May 29 this year.
This assurance was given to Nigerians by the significant duo of the Chief of Staff to the President, Professor Ibrahim Gambari and the honourable Minister of Works, Mr Babatunde Raji Fashola during their pre-commissioning visit to the on-going project works last Tuesday.
Fashola said at the end of the inspection of the AKR project works that sections 2 and 3 covering over 210 kilometers from Kano to Kaduna would be completed and commissioned before the end of the Muhammadu Buhari Presidency next month.
With regard to section one of the project, that is, Abuja to Kaduna, the honourable minister said that portion of the project lost about an operational year due to the seriously disruptive activities of criminal elements in the area, and also due to the necessity to resolve pending issues of right of way and compensation for affected communities by the client to enable the contractors work without any hindrances.
Fashola, however, added that a drive through section one shows the contractor, Julius Berger Nigeria Plc, still working on the road even with the aforementioned real constraints and challenges to their operations in the area.
The honourable minister therefore again assured the public that despite the operational hiccups occassioned by the security challenges and the issues of right of way and compensation to affected individuals and communities, the succeeding and incoming federal administration will of a certainty complete section 1 of the AKR project also.
“All we need going forward is to collaborate with the honourable minister of the FCT, the Governments of Niger and Kaduna states, to enable us resolve pending issues so that the works can move faster and smoothly,“ said the minister of Works.
The Chief of Staff to the President, Professor Ibrahim Gambari also assured that funding by the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) for the AKR project, as indeed for all the Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund (PIDF) projects remains guaranteed.
Gambari who gave kudos to the Buhari administration for its unwavering and laser focus on the development of critically needed and quality infrastructures for the beneficial use of Nigerians and residents, also commended the contractors, Julius Berger Nigeria Plc for the good quality and progress recorded in the AKR project thus far.
Professor Gambari used the occassion to state President Buhari’s unparalleled, patriotic commitment to project completion and delivery as he announced that Julius Berger has also now completed and delivered the construction of the 2nd River Niger Bridge, another Buhari legacy project, which he said is slated for commissioning, soon.
Significantly, fort he company’s operational competence and reliability, the Federal Government also entrusted Julius Berger Nigeria Plc with the construction of the Lagos-Shagamu Expressway (LSE) project, which is also now near completion and commissioning.
Professor Ibrahim Gambari refers to the three major infrastructural projects handled by Julius Berger, that is, the Abuja-Kano Road, the 2nd River Niger Bridge and its related roads and interchange, and the Lagos Shagamu Expressway, as the three Legacy Road Projects of the Buhari Administration.
Other high-ranking government officials that accompanied the Chief of Staff to the President and the honourable Minister of Works during the visit included, the Managing Director of the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA), Aminu Umar Sadiq, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Special Projects, Mr Aniefiok Johnson as well as directors, controllers and project engineers from the Federal Ministry of Works.
The Secretary to the (Kano) State Government, Alhaji Usman Alhaji and the Kano State honourable Commissioner for works, Engr. Idris Wada were also among dignitaries who welcomed the Chief of Staff and the honourable Minister of Works to Kano during the visit.
The Managing Director of Julius Berger Nigeria Plc, Engr. Dr. Lars Richter was at the head of the company’s team to recieve the visiting high-ranking government officials during their visit to the AKR works. Also on the Managing Director’s team in Kano were the AKR project Director, Engr. Benjamin Bott, Engr. Abubakar Gimba, and Prince Moses Duku, amongst others.