Emmanuel Addeh in Abuja
Minister of Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, has threatened that the federal government would soon commence the forceful removal of any vehicle parked on the country’s highways, obstructing construction work going on in major roads throughout Nigeria.
Fashola, who also dimmed hopes of an early completion of Port Harcourt-Enugu, Aba-Port Harcourt highway, noted that it was not possible to finish the project this year, but said part of the road would be fixed to ease the suffering of commuters on the road.
“We expect people to cooperate with us. We expect people not to park vehicles on the construction sections because this will obstruct traffic. Our highways are not parking lots. Any vehicle parked on any part of the construction sections of the highway should be impounded,” he directed.
The minister, in a statement by a Deputy Director of Press in the ministry, Boade Akinola, blamed environmental factors affecting work on the project.
Fashola spoke during an inspection of the Port Harcourt-Enugu section of the highway.
He noted that a large part of the construction was on water, reason it was delaying.
“We must first remember that if you do not have water, you cannot be a port city. Essentially, we are building on water. It is a very challenging environment for infrastructure.
“As you can see, our plan is to deliver eight lanes from what was four lanes since we intend to make our experience better this rainy season than last year,” he said.
He appealed to the host communities to be patient with the federal government and show cooperation as government was committed to providing bigger, better, wider and safer road for them.
He added that though the work would not be completed this year, government intended to finish the four lanes, divide the four lanes into two for incoming and outward bound traffic to facilitate free flow of traffic.
According to him, the move would serve as a form of relief to commuters and other road users as nine kilometres of the road from Eleme junction is in between Port Harcourt urban and metropolitan.
Speaking on why the road construction was delayed, Fashola said: “A lot of sand filling is going on here, the road is dug well over two metres and we have to remove the bad soil and replace it with good soil and this accounts for a lot of dredging work going on here. It is another challenge altogether.”
He also explained that part of the road was passing through already built area, noting that some buildings had to go as well as the relocation of power lines, adding that those were some of the challenges and the reasons the road was taking time to be completed.
While calling for the cooperation of commuters, communities, local and state governments to fast-track the construction of the road, Fashola assured the people that this year’s experience would be better than last year’s.