The Minister, Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, has warned that the benefits of the huge investment in the construction of the East-West carriageway may elude the region unless proper management structures are put in place to guarantee that all parties play their roles effectively.
Senator Akpabio, who gave the warning at a stakeholders meeting convened to evolve an enduring platform for the planning, development, and management of the East-West Road corridor in Warri, Delta State, reiterated Federal Government's commitment to compete for the project at the stipulated time.
The Minister noted that the sole purpose of the meeting was to enrich and ensure the collective appreciation of the task ahead and to have firsthand knowledge of the entire corridor which spans a total length of about 361 kilometer across five States of Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers, Akwa Ibom and Cross River.
Represented by the Director of Housing and Urban Development, Engr. Okereafor Patrick, the Minister explained that the Road Corridor is presently a dual carriageway with a total of four lanes.
He added that at the end of the technical meeting and the tour which will last two days with a wrap-up in Uyo, the attendees will appreciate the essence of the road tour.
According to him, "I am certain that we shall all be clear and lucid about the content of our collective task, the challenges and the importance of our commitment to this cause."
He urged all stakeholders to gear up and demonstrate commitment towards the completion of the road and commended the Delta State Government for assisting in the organization of the meeting.
In his remarks, the representative of the Delta State Governor, His Excellency, Sen. Ifeanyi Okowa, Olorogun Arthur Akpowowo, esq, Honourable Commissioner, Ministry of Urban Renewal Delta State said as one of the focal persons of the counterpart team, will ensure that Delta State cooperate with MNDA to actualize the success of the East-West road corridor.
The Director Urban Development (UD) MNDA, Town Planner (Tpl) Olufemi Oloruntola in his presentation on complementary programmes for East-West Road said the objective is to heighten their resolve for action and lay the foundation for the consensus among stakeholders.
According to him "the East-West road is a highway that carries heavy traffic which includes volatile and dangerous cargos which had resulted in traffic jams and clogs, damage to the road, disruption of economic activities, insecurity, trauma, and increased maintenance cost as well as the loss of revenue to the Government, adding that the locations for immediate action were Ughelli, Patani, Elele, Port Harcourt, and Eket.
Speaking further, Tpl Oloruntola said that the complementary programmes are proposed to protect the corridor and guarantee its Return on Investment (ROI) on a long-lasting basis.
In his words, "the idea is for the MNDA to take proactive steps early to establish approved access and exit points in conjunction with the relevant state and local authorities, especially the Local Planning Authorities along the corridor. Their respective physical plans will integrate into these points. The essence is to implement mitigation actions to control and manage access and provide for the seamless influx and exit of traffic at agreed, designated and approved locations only and thus eliminate corridor clogs."
In his contribution titled, "Highway Development and Evolution in Nigeria: Past and Contemporary Vision, the Deputy Director Urban and Regional Development, Federal Ministry of Works and Housing, FMW & H,", Tpl Lanu Olalekan said that road transportation constitutes one of the major features of the economic development of Nigeria.
He said that the road chosen at the inception of the road development was inter-regional from North-South and East-West connecting commodity production centres with Railways Stations and the Ports.
Olalekan further stated that the roads were primarily built in Nigeria to feed the railways and be complementary to them. However, roads eventually took over from the railways as the country's road network improved and captured more and more traffic from railways especially after independence in 1960.