14 July 2024

Works Minister, Umahi Orders Arrest Of Aba Street Traders

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Eboonyi state governor David umahi
David Umahi

The Minister of Works, David Umahi, has ordered the arrest of persons trading on the Aba axis of the Enugu-Port Harcourt Expressway, still undergoing rehabilitation.

Umahi, who was in Aba, Abia State on Saturday to inspect the completed section of the project, directed the security operatives attached to his motorcade to arrest the erring traders.

He further expressed disappointment over the activities of the traders, saying that they would be charged to court according to the law of the land.

“It appears the people here like to inflict injuries on themselves.

“They can’t even allow the contractor to work.

“They drive against traffic. They use the completed road for parks, trading and dumping of refuse.

“The whole of Aba refuse is being dumped on this road. It is not encouraging at all.

“I will advise the governor to set up a task force here.

“We wouldn’t like after the Federal Government had spent so much here we see people building and trading on the road.

“So, the only way out for this work to be completed is for the governor to set up a task force and clear the road.

“The citizens of this country will need to do their bit, while leadership also does its bit. That is the only way it will work.

“While Mr President is passing through sleepless nights on how to solve the problems of a very bad inherited economy, Nigerians should support him and also support themselves,” Umahi said.

While speaking with newsmen, he said that the project, which was first awarded about 10 years ago, had yet to be completed because of the high cost of construction materials.

READ ALSO: Abuja-Kaduna-Kano Highway Will Be Completed In Two Years — Works Minister Umahi Assures

“When I came on board in August 2023, bitumen was N500,000 per ton, but today it’s about N1.3 million.

“That is why we are asking, can we go for concrete that is almost about 95 per cent sourced locally?”

Meanwhile, Umahi has denied paying N8.7bn into a Microfinance Bank contrary to extant regulations for construction of roads.

A statement by the Special Adviser on Media to the Minister, Orji Uchenna Orji quoted Umahi as saying; “Let me use the opportunity to debunk something that is ongoing in the social media. I don’t know what they call the group, is it Tracta Budgit or something which claims they’re monitoring the budget of the federal government, said we paid N8.7 billion to the microfinance bank.

“When a contractor has done his or her work, the money becomes his money, he can say, pay it to this bank or another. So, they are being mischievous. If they are asking whether the job has been done, that is reasonable and a right to provide an answer but they do not have the right to say where a contractor will say his money will be paid. Whether it is paid into a microfinance bank or not, without prejudice that I don’t have the facts about the jobs, they have no right to say it is paid into a microfinance bank.”

He added that the information was a distraction, alleging that it is the work of bad contractors to fight back.

“The jobs were never done by me, payments were not done by me and even if it was me, if the jobs were done and the certificate generated; deployed to the platform and it was appropriated and money was released against the project, then they have no right to question where it was paid.

“In all the states. It is our policy that the state governors through their appointed officials must mark off any project especially the emergency projects. When the contractor has completed a job, no matter how big it is. My advice for the governor is to come to the site and look at it before it gets to our office for payment, where this procedure is not done, I will not sign any generated certificate. So, we have invited the public to also be a part of the monitoring,” he added.

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