By Peter Dada
The Federal Government, on Thursday, flagged off the construction and dualisation of the Akure-Ado Ekiti Expressway in Akure, the Ondo State capital.
The road, which is about 49km long, had been in a deplorable condition for many years and had consequently been abandoned by many motorists.
At the flag-off ceremony, the Minister for Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, said the road would gulp over N90bn and would be completed in 24 months.
The minister attributed the delay in the construction of the expressway to the bureaucratic and technical processes which road construction must pass through before the work could start.
He noted that the project was being financed by the Nigeria National Petroleum Company Limited through the Tax Credit Policy of the Federal Government.
Fashola said, “We are going to dualise and reconstruct this road. In the road construction, the design of the road would come first and that caused the delay. It has to follow the process. The contractor has to sign an agreement and until all that is done, the project can’t start. The road has to be excavated because it is starting afresh.”
Reacting to the criticism against the outgoing Buhari regime awarding contracts a few days before the expiration of the tenure, the minister declared that the outgoing government had the right to award contracts till the last hour.
Fashola said, “Buhari can award contracts till the last minute. So, we will work till the last minute. Those criticising us are an ignoramus. Some people are asking why we are still awarding contracts with few days to go, but they have forgotten that the tenure of this present administration ends at midnight of May 28, 2023, at 11.59 pm and when it is 12am, Bola Tinubu takes over the government and that is why we are still working.
“They forget that you, the people of Nigeria, through your representatives, have passed a budget for us to implement. Some people are still saying why are they borrowing a few days to their expiration, it’s because we don’t have enough money and people want infrastructure. If you don’t want to borrow, that means the government will increase your taxes because that is another way to pay the deficits and that is how it is done in any part of the world.”
In his remarks, the Ondo State Governor, Mr Rotimi Akeredolu, who was represented by the state Commissioner for Lands and Infrastructure, Mr Raimi Aminu, lauded the minister for the flag-off of the project and appealed to the people of the two states to cooperate with the contractor.
Similarly, the Ekiti State counterpart, Mr Biodun Oyebanji, represented by Mr Dele Agbede, said the road, when completed, would improve the economy of the two states.