By Paschal Emeka, Abuja.
The House of Representatives has mandated the contractor handling the rehabilitation of Abuja-Kaduna Expressway to mobilizer to site immediately so as to speed up work on the expressway
The directive came in a notice of Motion brought by Hon.Garba Datti Muhammad including 38 others during plenary in Abuja.
The Representatives recalled that in March 2021, the Honourable Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, SAN had announced that the Federal Executive Council had approved the contract for the rehabilitation of the Abuja-Kaduna-Zaria-Kano Expressway.
The House also informed that the approvals with a delivery date of December 2022 was given to contractor handling the projects.
They also recalled that the Honourable Minister had announced that the firm, which had initially been contracted to undertake the rehabilitation work on the road, Julius Berger Plc. would also be responsible for the reconstruction of the road;
The legislators further recalled that following incessant and rampant incidents of banditry along the Abuja-Kaduna Highway, the contractor withdrew its workers from the road for security reasons, noting that at the time of the withdrawal by the contractor, at least one half of the stretch of the road had been graded and covered.
They also informed that after the intense rainfall of the past few months has given way to gorges and potholes which left the road un-motorable and severely slowed down traffic such that a journey that would ordinarily last one and a half hours now took three hours to complete.
They further noted that because of the current condition of the road, whenever a vehicle or truck breakdown on it for a few minutes it would result in a build-up of static traffic.
The House lamented that this was exactly what happened on the road when a truck broke was down on the road as a which resulted to a massive gridlock on the road and that this gridlock was cleared only after five days.
The House was distraught that, to worsen matters, the gridlock that was occasioned recently often left motorists and commuters stranded on the road sometimes for between six to nine hours on a journey that should last not more than one and a half hours.
Lawmakers also expressed fear that there is a high probability that that these gridlocks would become recurrent in the immediate future.
They were worried that although the security situation has recently improved along that stretch of road, gridlock on it still exposes commuters held up in it to the probability of bandits and terrorists attacks with the attendant loss of lives and property.
They House was mindful that Abuja-Kaduna highway is the gateway between the North and the South of Nigeria and the major link road to the North West and North East as well as to many neighbouring countries.
The Representatives also recognized that the Abuja-Kaduna highway is the key outlet for the transportation of persons, commodities and goods across Nigeria and this is evident in the extraordinary traffic on it.
The lawmakers also. expressed worry that the situation on the Abuja-Kaduna Highway has become a debilitating drawback to the Nigerian economy, that if not immediately rectified it will further spell doom for the nation’s economy and the social life of Nigerians contrary to section 15(1) of the Constitution, which mandates the Nigerian State to “provide adequate facilities for and encourage free mobility of people, goods and services throughout” Nigeria as well as section 41(1) which guarantees the right to freedom of movement throughout Nigeria to every Nigerian.
They therefore determined that that the aforementioned circumstances have made it urgent that the contractor, Julius Berger Plc. be immediately brought back to site to complete this phase of the contract especially the stretch between Jere and Kaduna.
Consequently, the Representatives resolved to do the following:
Call on the Minister of Works and Housing to urgently and without further delay direct the contractor, Julius Berger Plc. to immediately return to site and complete its reconstruction work starting with the Jere – Kaduna stretch.
Call on the Federal Government to deploy the military personnel and material resources as well as intelligence necessary to secure the Abuja-Kaduna Expressway to enable the contractor resume work without risk to personnel and equipment.
mandate the House Committee on Works to liaise with the Minister of Works and Housing as well as the heads of the relevant security agencies towards ensuring the implementation of the above resolutions and report to the House within three weeks