By G9ija

Smiles will soon come on the faces of commuters and motorists as the Federal Government has given end of December this year to complete the ongoing construction and rehabilitation of Abuja-Lokoja Highway.

Engr Funsho Adebiyi, Director Highway Construction and Rehabilitation of the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing disclosed this at the weekend in Lokoja while inspecting the progress made so far on the project.

Adebiyi said the Federal Government was currently carrying on massive reconstruction of many major roads across the country with the Abuja-Lokoja highway section as a fraction which should be completed “soonest.”

He said; “I want to assure you and our road users that this road will be completed soonest.

“We are putting every effort to ensure that this project is completed as quickly as is humanly possible.

“In fact, the Minister, Oga Raji Fashola has directed that all efforts, attention and resources be channeled toward the completion of the project before the end of this year and we cannot do otherwise.

“We cannot afford to fail. Before the end of this year, we want to try to make sure that the entire four sections are completed,” he said.

Adebiyi explained that the project was broken into four sections and awarded to different contractors with section one being handled by Dantata and Sawoe, presently at 96 per cent completion.

Section two being handled by RCC was completed about four years back after attaining 100 per cent completion, while section three being executed by Bulletin had attained about 49 per cent completion just as section four under Gitto Construction Company had reached about 72 per cent completion.

He listed some of the challenges militated against its timely completion to include poor funding, insecurity, management challenges among contractors and location of Lokoja Modern Market.

“The projects are not long, the entire stretch is not long. Section one for instance, is only about 42 kms, Section two 50 kms, Section three, about 49.3 kms and Section four, 48 kilometres, he said, adding,

“My worry is that the amount provided for in the budget has been a major challenge every year. Virtually all our projects are facing different sources of funding. Now this one has been placed under SUKUK.

“Apart from these challenges, we acknowledge that our contractors are facing some management challenges but that is not our problem.

“Another challenge is the issue of Nataco road and the Lokoja Modern Market. Every four days there is that market at that junction and the human activities there are quite heavy.

“They constitute traffic gridlock and again and again, we keep looking for solutions to this.

“Initially, we proposed a fly-over there to have an interchange. It was removed by BPP but we are trying to make case to restore it.

“We have two options, either we restore the idea of the interchange or we move the market away from there. Until we do either of the two, the traffic gridlock in Lokoja will not cease,” he concluded.