The Minister for Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN), has applauded the massive urban regeneration and renewal programme of the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike.
Mr. Fashola made the observation while inaugurating the Rebisi Flyover Bridge in Port Harcourt on Saturday, which is one of five Flyover Bridges that are under construction simultaneously in the state.
The minister, who took a walk on the 969.4 metres-long Rebisi Dual Carriage Flyover Bridge with his host, Governor Wike, said such development efforts will promote peace among residents, tourism and return Port Harcourt to its Garden City Status.
Fashola, who had earlier visited the Rumuogba, Okoro-Nu-Odu, Rumuola and GRA Junction flyovers, said: “What I witnessed is a massive urban regeneration and urban renewal of Port Harcourt”.
He said Ministers have been mandated to support the developmental initiatives and aspirations of every state in the country. This, he said, also informed the initiative to refund money spent on federal roads to States. According to him, the first tranche of refund was about N577 Billion while the second tranche, for which, Rivers State is a beneficiary, is N148 Billion.
N78.9Bn not yet in Wike’s hands
“In the second tranche it was five states. Out of those five states, I think only two were APC states and it was a total of N148billiion and Governor Nyesom Wike and Rivers State got lion share. He got N78billion. Don’t sit here and think he has received N78 billion, he still has to go to National Assembly because this is part of Nigeria borrowing plan” he said.
The Minister commended Governor Wike for naming the Rebisi Flyover which is located at Garrison Junction, after the community.
“This place use to be known as Garrison. But, clearly as we begin to shed our military toga and our democracy ages and deepen, we will see a rebirth in our unity, our oneness and our shared developmental aspiration” he said.
Governor Wike said when the State Government flagged off the Rebisi, Okoro-Nu-Odu and Rumuogba flyovers simultaneously in October 2019, many sceptics, had questioned the possibility of the State completing the projects within the estimated time frame of 16 months.
He explained that the contractor, Julius Berger, worked assiduously, even during the COVID-19 lockdown, just to ensure that the projects were delivered on time.
“By December, we have to commission Okoro-Nu-Odu flyover. By February, we have to commission Rumuogba and Rumuola; by March-April, we will commission the GRA flyover” he said.
Governor Wike expressed satisfaction that his administration has been able to fulfil the promise of constructing five Flyover Bridges, with one of them achieved in twelve months.
The governor said the flyover bridge by CFC/Corpus Christi bus stop will be expanded to make it the sixth flyovers project under construction in the state.
Governor Wike who noted the leadership role played by Mr Babatunde Fashola in the assessment of the application for refund to the state money spent on federal projects, also appealed that the new flyover projects should be considered for refund.
The governor who frowned at the refusal of traders to obey Government’s directive not to display their wares along the roads in order not to inconvenience road users said an executive order will be signed by him on Monday to discourage the practice.
He said with such executive order in force, any landlord who allows traders to displays wares for sales in front on their buildings will forfeit them to government because they will be acquired for public use.
Rivers State Commissioner for Works , Mr. Eloka Tasie-Amadi said when the Rebisi Flyover Bridge was flagged off on the 24 October 2019 it was to be delivered in 16 months but it has been achieved within 12 months.
He said the project has not only improved the aesthetics of the city but enhanced traffic flow, relief transport time, eradicated traffic conflict at the junction and reduced vehicular damage that bad roads cause.
Amaechi pressed for refund of Rivers N78.9Bn
Fashiola revealed that former governor, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, now minister of transportation, pressed so very hard in the Federal Executive Council for refund of the Rivers fund.
Amaechi was the governor when almost all the projects that attracted the refunds were constructed. Many felt he played no role in securing such huge funds. Fashiola has now let the cat out of the bag.