Posted by The Vanguard on
THE Federal Ministry of Works has called on the Anambra State Government to eject illegal squatters on the Onitsha end of the road to enable the contractor complete the on-going dualisation project.
ONITSHA —THE Federal Ministry of Works has called on the Anambra State Government to eject illegal squatters on the Onitsha end of the road to enable the contractor complete the on-going dualisation project.
The Director of Federal Highways, Engineer David Jime made the appeal on behalf of the Minister of Works, Chief Adeseye Ogunlewe, during an inspection visit to the project.
He stated that the Ministry through its contractor, CCC, had just expanded and dualised the road to 11 metres width as designed, and lamented that illegal squatters had taken more than three-quarters of the road. He observed that shops and kiosks were being built right on top of the asphalted surface of the road, after the squatters had taken over the shoulders and drainages. He stated that as long as the squatters persisted in obstructing the road and frustrating the contractors, progress could not be made on the construction effort.
He appealed to the Anambra State Government to clear the squatters so that the contractor could build the road, which he said had been delayed for a very long time, stating: "If these people cannot be cleared then any delay in the progress of work should not be blamed on the Federal Government". He emphasised that it was the responsibility of the Anambra State Government to cooperate with the Ministry and use the police and security agencies to clear the illegal structures and squatters to enable the contractor make progress. He added that as citizens of the State, the State Government could appeal to the people and educate them that they needed the road and therefore had to make way for its construction.
He assured that if the squatters could give way, the project could be finished within the next few months at the Onitsha end, so that the contractor could move to other locations. He said, "this road is not a market, it is built to accommodate traffic. They have converted it into a market. There is no way that we can work like this".
He refuted allegations that the squatters had allocation papers from the Ministry, stating:"nobody has any right to authorize any person to build or develop on the Federal Highway right of way. Any purported allocation paper in the possession of any person is fictitious and illegal, and should be discarded. This project is too important for the whole South-East to be left like this".
He disclosed that it has become expedient to put two contractors on the road to accelerate the pace of work. He said Julius Berger had already started mobilising at Owerri end, while the CCC would continue to work from the Onitsha end of the project. He praised the progress achieved by CCC in recent times, following the disbursement of more funds to the company, and assured that the project could be completed and commissioned before May 2007, if the Anambra State Government heeded the appeal on the evacuation of squatters from the road.
In his reaction, Anambra State Commissioner of Works, Architect Emeka O. Ejikeme lamented that the squatters had been very uncooperative in spite of repeated appeals by the state government, including the construction of an ultra modern alternative market for them. He said the state government was considering the option of setting-up a security task force to rid the road of the squatters as requested by the Federal Government.
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