FG, MTN Meet to Ramp Up Work on N200bn Enugu-Onitsha Highway

FG, MTN Meet to Ramp Up Work on N200bn Enugu-Onitsha Highway

•Government raises panel to renegotiate award of Ijora central workshop

Emmanuel Addeh in Abuja

The federal government and the leadership of MTN Nigeria have met to resolve the issues delaying the speedy completion of the ongoing  rehabilitation of the Enugu-Onitsha highway.

The project comes under the tax credit scheme, which provides for some corporate organisations such as Dangote, BUA and the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC) to utilise 50 per cent of their expected tax payable to the government to fund the construction of critical road projects nationwide.

A statement by the ministry of works signed by the Director of Information, Olusola Abiola, said the existing contract signed with MTN, a leading telecommunications service provider in the country, would gulp over N200 billion in two separate phases to be executed over a period of 36 months.

Speaking at the end of a meeting in Abuja, the Minister of Works, David Umahi, lauded the firm led by its Chief Executive Officer, Karl Toriola for the assurance given to fast-track the rehabilitation of the 107km highway.

The road begins from the 82 Division in Enugu and terminates at the River Niger head bridge in Onitsha.

Both parties renewed their commitments towards the completion of the   rehabilitation of the highway after the stakeholders’ meeting held at the ministry’s headquarters, the statement added.

Umahi restated the imperative for the organisation to make good its commitment to the provisions of the contract in spite of the current economic challenges.

He however promised that the Bola Tinubu administration would continue to give credible assistance to MTN as it demonstrates the determination to complete the highway project on schedule.

In his own remarks, the CEO of MTN Nigeria, Toriola, expressed his appreciation for the minister’s understanding of the challenges being faced in the execution of the contract, pledging to expedite work on the project.

He assured the minister that his organisation would continue to partner with the federal government and work towards the successful completion of the project.

Meanwhile, Umahi has set up a five-man panel comprising the Directors of Highway Construction and Rehabilitation (Chairman), Highway Planning &  Development, Engineering  Services,  Legal  Services and Head Public Private Partnership to review the award of the concession deal to rehabilitate and manage the ministry’s central workshop in Ijora, Lagos, under a public/private partnership.

Considering  the report  on the processes leading  to the finalisation of the   agreement with  Messrs BETA Transport Nigeria Ltd, the minister expressed  reservations  over  of the negotiation that gave rise to the financial  close.

He therefore constituted the committee to re-evaluate the negotiation  outcome and make appropriate  recommendations with a view to achieving  value for the federal government.

The minister said that any concessionaire interested in investment in the rehabilitation and management of the place should invest in technologies that will promote best construction standards in Nigeria.

According to him, the mandate of the central workshop, which is essentially public works, is provided by the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC).

At the review meeting attended by the head of PPP, Nnnenaya Ugwu-Chima and representatives of the firm led by its Director, Fatima Paturel, Umahi urged them to see the partnership as an opportunity to develop technologies that would help in the building and maintenance of the infrastructure.

He said that these include buildings, road construction, bridges, rail tracks, harbours and aerodromes.

Umahi highlighted the importance of the federal government’s approval for the concession of the facility and expressed confidence that if fully rehabilitated and put into optimal use, it would  create job opportunities.

The minister further said it would help in the training  of  Nigerian youths, artisans and craftsmen, to close the  gap in the human capital  formation needed  to  drive the construction and manufacturing industry.

Responding  on behalf of the committee, the chairman assured the federal government that members would  deliver in record  time on the assignment  given to them.

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