The deplorable East-West Road spanning across about four states is to be completed by Niger Dleta Development Commission (NDDC) before December this year, Senator Godswill Akpabio has said.
The road whose contract was awarded more than 18 years ago was abandoned by successive administrations, leading to involvement of road users and pedestrians in auto crash and other forms of accident.
Akpabio who spoke with Premium Times correspondent on Monday in an interview said “I will like to see bridges sprout in the Niger Delta region. I will like to see regional projects, like Warri-Sapele Road completely dualized; completion of the East-West road before December this year.”
On the Calabar-Itu Highway, he said “Then, I will like to see the commencement of the other portion of the road to Calabar. I like to see a Niger Delta region where employment opportunities are available for the youth and small industries spring up.”
Speaking on other development issues, the minister observed “I will like to see an end to the Amnesty Programme and the youths involving themselves in post-Amnesty Initiatives. I will like to see that elderly ex-agitators have good jobs that would give them money to enable their children go to school.
“I will like see a Niger Delta that is developed like other places that produce oil. I like to see the NDDC partner with IFAD to develop the region.
“I’ll like to see NDDC Specialist Hospital built in partnership with international experts as the final bus stop on medical problems. Even if it is not in all the states of the region, but at least in its strategic areas. I’ll like to see major bridges. I’ll like to see a peaceful region that does not pose a problem to oil workers and oil facilities.”
According to him, “As Minister of Niger Delta, I am committed to all those ideals, and I am working towards that. But, we cannot achieve that if the only parastatal under my Ministry, the NDDC remains the way the people have all made it to be in the past.
“Many people try to pretend as if these things don’t exist. But I cannot. As a governor I did not like NDDC, because of the way things were being handled. As a Senator, I did not like it either.
“They were doing only projects that can put money in people’s pockets and not those that can turn around the conditions of the region.
“They were more interested in organising retreats and trainings. They started three specialist hospitals in Port Harcourt and two other places. Up till today, they have not completed them. I’ll like to see an NDDC that does not pay money for hotels, but has its own guest houses, or has its own international headquarters where people can visit.
“I’ll like to see an NDDC with a healthy balance sheet it uses to approach the EXIM Bank for a facility to develop the Niger Delta region,” he stated.