By Ignatius Chukwu
Julius Berger was last week paid a whopping N195.3Bn upfront payment and today, July 17, 2023, the N200Bn PH Ring Road was flagged off.
The governor said it will last 36 months only. The Port Harcourt Ring Road initiated by the new administration in Rivers State is now beyond speculation.
The road is expected to pass through six local council areas and have seven flyovers.
Gov Sim Fubara, who explained the reason for the upfront payment, said it was the only way such huge project would be completed within the life of the administration and not be abandoned.
Speaking at the flag-off, Goc Fubara said that the inherent individual differences occasioned by the diverse ethnic groupings notwithstanding, the Port Harcourt Ring Road will serve as a bold effort taken in connecting Rivers people and fostering greater unity among them.
He pointed out that previous administrations had attempted to execute the project but could not. He commended the immediate past governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, for initiating the New Rivers Vision that is serving as the building template to the radical development of the State as being consolidated by his administration.
According to him: “Today, we are here to put mortar to brick to that contract-signing. Some of you had doubts when we signed the contract whether we will start it. But we did not just sign it, we have paid for it and we are here to commence the job.
“The importance of this road is not just connecting Eleme to Etche, Etche to Ikwerre local government areas but connecting our people.”
Gov Fubara, who emphasized that there is no meaningful development without road accessibility, urged the various communities that the project will traverse to cooperate with the contractor without sabotaging it. He assured them of timely payment of determined compensations.
Immediate past governor of Rivers State, Chief Barr. Nyesom Wike, who performed the flag-off, recalled how the administration he served as Chief-of-Staff, had set money aside but could not muster the political will as demonstrated by Fubara’s government to Kick-start the Port Harcourt Ring Road project barely weeks after assuming office. That bold initiative shows leadership.
He commended Gov Fubara for the courage and political will to embark on the landmark project, describing him as a man of few words but with the utmost capacity to deliver great development to the people of Rivers State.
On his part, the Rivers State Commissioner for Works, Dr. George-Kelly Dakorinama Alabo, explained that the Port Harcourt Ring Road project is 50.15km long and has varied widths of between 7.6m and 29.2m where there are service lanes. It also has six flyovers and one river-crossing bridge.
Also speaking, the Managing Director of Julius Berger Nigeria Plc, Dr. Lars Ritcher, applauded the Rivers State Government for embarking on the Ring Road project which will be quite significant to the collective prosperity of the people.
He added that the project is a shining example of modern infrastructural development designed to connect people to communities and to opportunities.
Rivers State has big-ticket projects that seemed abandoned. There is the N400Bn Greater PH City; the N150Bn Monorail project that was left; the N56Bn Unity Road that is wobbling, etc. Now, Fubara says paying upfront is best way to make a contract work with full focus. This was the advice ex-Gov Nyesom Wike gave the FG on how to complete projects faster.
Fubara explained that the best time to start a project that has a completion period of 36 months is now, which is precisely why 75 percent of the contract sum of N195.3B has been released to make Julius Berger give the required urgency to the project, according to a statement signed by the governor’s Special Assistant on Media, Boniface Onyeadi.
The statement quoted Fubara to have said his administration is in a hurry to develop new cities and that the construction of the Port Harcourt Ring Road project will facilitate the achievement of that objective with enduring quality infrastructure provided for the people.
He said Gov Fubara gave the assurance moments after the contract papers for the construction of the project were signed between the Rivers State government and Julius Berger Nigeria Plc at the Executive Chambers of Government House in Port Harcourt.
Those that signed on behalf of the Rivers State government were the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Zacheaus Adangor, Commissioner for Works, George Kelly Dakorinama Alabo and the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Works, Ebere Dennis Emenike; while the Managing Director, Lars Ritcher and Raymond Marisho, Assistant Regional Manager, signed for Julius Berger.