…as Otti flags off project

Residents of the commercial city of Aba in Abia State were in upbeat mood on Thursday as the state governor, Alex Otti, flagged off the reconstruction of the 6.8km Aba-Port Harcourt Road at Aba.

The new Aba-Port Harcourt Road is a total of 6.8km, made up of 5.7km from the beginning of Port Harcourt Road by Ngwa Road to the end of the intersection with the Enugu-Umuahia-Aba-Port Harcourt Expressway by Alaoji, and another 1.1km from the intersection with Ngwa Road to the junction of Azikiwe Road by Asa Road, the state Commissioner for Works, Engr Otumchere Oti, explained during the flag-off ceremony in Aba.

In his remarks at the flag-off ceremony, Governor Otti, who led the State Executive Council members and other stakeholders to the event, said the Aba-Port Harcourt Road was first constructed by the late former governor of old Imo State, Sam Mbakwe, but has been in a state of disrepair and abandonment for over 20 years occasioning avoidable flood and other environmental problems and, consequently, shutdown of businesses.

Recall that the present-day Abia State was part of the old Imo State until 1991 when it was carved out by the Ibrahim Babangida military regime.

“I am glad that we are taking yet another strategic step in fulfilling one of my promises to break the jinx of Port Harcourt Road, Aba and revive the long abandoned economic activities along this corridor; activities that once gave Aba a set of peculiar commercial and trading advantages, starting from the early 1980s when our revered leader, Dee Sam Mbakwe, Governor of old Imo State, constructed this road to feed into the booming oil industrial complex in Port Harcourt,” Otti said.

The governor recalled with nostalgia that the road corridor in past decades emerged as one of the busiest parts of Aba and a go-to destination for people and businesses in Abia. He assured Aba residents and Abians in general that the years of abandonment of the important road were over.

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On the Abia State Government’s choice of Julius Berger Nigeria Plc as the contractors for the project, Otti said the decision was “another milestone to bring definite relief to the people”. He said he had earlier led representatives of the company to inspect the road because it was his view that it would take a long time to complete the process of bringing life to the corridor.

“We were very careful not to repeat the errors of the past. It is better to construct the road and do it well. I told our people we shall only go for the best because that is what you (Abians) deserve. We then accepted the engineering designs and bid of the foremost engineering construction company, Julius Berger Nigeria Plc,” Otti said.

“I believe that Julius Berger is the best and, under my watch, only the best is good for Abia State. So, forget the heartbreaks of the past on this project. Look into the future as Julius Berger is here to give you the best of their expertise and put happy smiles on your faces again,” he said.

He urged residents to cooperate with the contractors, adding that on completion, there would be restoration for all the businesses and property value for residents of the area.

Also speaking, the Managing Director of Julius Berger Nigeria Plc, Engr Lars Richter, thanked Governor Otti for his administration’s confidence in Julius Berger.

“We are humbled and challenged by this award. I promise that we will employ our unique expertise to deliver the project to specifications. We assure you that you will get quality delivery,” Richter said.

Counting on the goodwill of the people on the project corridor for peaceful project progress and success, Richter solicited the cooperation of residents of Aba during the reconstruction period and even beyond.

The Julius Berger delegation to the event included Dr Lars Richter, Engr Friedrich Wieser, Engr Dominic Mueller, and Chief Sam Ngbor.