Minister of Works, Babatunde Raji Fashola
By Our Reporter
The Federal Government has again reiterated its profound satisfaction with the good quality works and excellent engineering standards being consistently and rapidly implemented by Julius Berger on the Abuja-Kaduna-Zaria-Kano Road project. The position of the Federal Government was made known at a press briefing by the Minister of State for Works, Engr. Aliyu Abubakar, FNSE, at Dan Kazali at Section III of the ongoing works in Kano. Engr. Aliyu Abubakar, said the Federal Government will not rest on its oars until the ongoing reconstruction of Abuja-Kaduna-Kano road project is completed as planned.
Speaking to news correspondents on Thursday during his physical inspection tour of the project from Abuja to Kano, the Minister of State expressed the Federal Government’s full commitment to the realization of the strategically important road project. Engr. Aliyu Abubakar reiterated that the Abuja-Kano Road project was one of the priorities of the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari. According to him, this has necessitated and occasioned proper, close and consistent monitoring visits to the project in the past few months by the Honourable Minister of Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Raji-Fashola with , powerful delegations which also included the person of Professor Gambari, the Chief of Staff to the President.
Abubakar said as a sequel to the Honourable Minister’s visit, a technical delegation of engineering experts also visited the project for further empirical assessment of the ongoing works. He said that was also followed with the visit of the Permanent Secretary of the ministry who led a team of other engineers. “This is how committed we are toward the completion of this project before the end of this administration. This is done because we have prioritised the project. From President Buhari, the minister, myself, our staff, engineers and the contractors (Julius Berger), we are all committed to ensuring that we deliver this work as envisioned by the present administration. That is why we do not leave any stone unturned.
Responding further to newsmen’s questions on project timelines, the Minister of State restated what the Hon. Minister of Works, Babatunde Raji Fashola, SAN, said during the Town Hall Meeting chaired by the Chief of Staff to the President on the project in Kaduna late last year. According to Engr. Aliyu Abubakar: “In the beginning, the scope was rehabilitation of the existing road. But having started the work, we realised that we need to reconstruct the road completely. This is now the stage that we are. So, if we are moving from rehabilitation to reconstruction, it takes time. It is entirely reconstructing the road. The road has stayed for so long without being given any much attention, especially if you talk about maintenance which makes a life span of a road longer. When this present government came, we set up a plan to ensure that all our roads are being maintained, and those that require reconstruction are being reconstructed,” he said.
The Minister described and commended President Buhari as a listening leader who very reasonably considers professional advice. “When the President was told that the road needed to be reconstructed, he agreed with us.As you are aware, we started from Abuja-Kaduna-Kano, which is about 378 kilometres. When you multiply this by two, since we have dual carriage, we have about 800 kilometre road. You can imagine the distance; to build a road like this takes time; therefore we are fully committed to see that we complete it within the shortest time possible,” Abubakar said.
Asked by the media to give his take so far on the works he had inspected, The Minister of State said: “Because you have been with us since we began this inspection from Abuja through Kaduna, Zaria and now to this point (Dan Kazali) in Kano, even you, after what you have seen, can agree that the evidence on ground shows clearly that the contractor, Julius Berger, is building a world class engineering infrastructure on the Abuja-Kano Road.”
When pressed by the media for his comments, Julius Bergerteam lead for the Minister’s visit, Regional Manager, Engr. Benjamin Booth simply said:“As contractors, we feel privileged to be entrusted with the construction of this strategic national infrastructure, and we are grateful and remain fully commited to a successful achievement of the great and very worthy vision of the Federal Government…. On behalf of our Managing Director and executive management, I assure you that, with full deference to the Government’s strong commitment, our company’s commitment to the accomplishment of the Abuja-Kano Road project is total.”