Abia State Governor, Dr Alex Otti has flagged off the reconstruction of the 6.8 kilometre Port Harcourt Road in Aba with a promise of economic rejuvenation in the commercial nerve centre of the State.
The age long dilapidated Port Harcourt road Aba, which was constructed during the administration of the late Sam Mbakwe of old Imo state was once a bustling hub for economic activities but has seriously deteriorated over the past two decades due to neglect by successive administrations.
Speaking during the event in a speech titled “Building On A Solid Rock Of Excellence” Governor Otti expressed his unwavering commitment to restore the road to its former glory.
The Governor emphasized that the reconstruction was not a mere political gesture for short-term gain but a holistic effort to restore the road’s durability and economic significance.
He pointed out that his administration enlisted the expertise of a renowned civil engineering company, Julius Berger PLC in Nigeria with a reputation for delivering landmark projects to ensure the highest quality was achieved.
According to him, the reconstruction of Port Harcourt Road Aba will drive economic rejuvenation and bring about economic development for investments to thrive.
He said that he was partly fulfilled that we have reached another milestone in what had been a very long process which started immediately after his victory on the 22nd of March 2023.
He pledged to complete the payment to Julius Berger on schedule to avoid any setbacks arising from delayed payment ,adding that the project has a delivery timeline of 18 months.
“My expectation is that whatever needs to be done to meet the target would be done, including working round the clock. On our own part, we have set up a robust financing structure to see that we complete the payment on schedule to eliminate any setbacks arising from payment delays”, Otti pointed out.
He said: “I’m glad that we are taking yet another strategic step in fulfilling one of my major campaign promises which is to permanently 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 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 expansion of the booming oil industrial complex in Port Harcourt.
“Dee Sam’s vision gained a foothold almost immediately as this stretch of road became a major hub for the servicing of heavy-duty vehicles, equipment, spare parts, power generating sets and ancillary tools. In no time, this axis emerged as one of the busiest parts of Aba and a go-to destination for maintenance engineers, procurement officers and contractors working for the multinationals in Port Harcourt and environs, bringing immediate prosperity and a host of other economic and social advantages to the city of Aba.
“For about two decades, it was all bliss and blush for businesses around this area until things began to fall apart in the mid to late 1990s, followed quickly by the unfortunate collapse and abandonment of the 2000s.
“Nothing seemed to work thereafter. In time, the businesses, including those that had their corporate headquarters around here began to disappear, finding more favourable locations as it became clear that succeeding administrations did not have the will to make the right commitments to restore this stretch of road and sustain its economic advantages; until today,” Governor Otti recalled as he addressed the mammoth crowd that trooped out to witness the landmark flag-off.
Governor Otti expressed gratitude to the people of Aba for their patience and commitment to genuine change,urged them to cooperate fully with the construction Team, assuring that the short-term sacrifices would lead to long-term benefits for the economic nerve center of the State.
“For the purpose of clarity, we are not just talking about pouring asphalt or doing any haphazard job just for cheap political capital. We have brought Julius Berger here for some well-defined reasons: to do a holistic job of fixing the road, addressing the age-long flooding problems especially at notoriously problematic points using appropriate technology and expertise; and ultimately see to it that with very minimal maintenance at regular intervals, this road shall continue to support the existing, new and returning businesses and their activities for at the very least, another twenty years, post-commissioning.
“My Team Members and I, including the State Commissioner for Works and many senior engineering Staff of the Ministry, worked closely with the Team from Julius Berger to ensure that the technical design and specifications adopted answered all the important questions regarding durability, reliability, flood control and other critical parameters,” the Governor explained.
The Governor further said that his administration’s ambition is to reset the fundamentals of the city by improving economically significant roads, waste management, and various social infrastructure as well as creating a conducive environment for businesses to thrive, create jobs and reduce poverty.
He assured the people that his administration was dedicated to delivering on its promises adding that the forthcoming months would witness a significant transformation in the city’s infrastructure and economic landscape.
Speaking, the Commissioner for Works, Engr. Otumchere Oti, explained that the project is a total of 6.8 kilometres comprising 5.7kms from the beginning of Port Harcourt Road by Ngwa Road to the end at the intersection with the Enugu-Umuahia-Aba-Port Harcourt Expressway by Alaoji and another 1.1kms from the intersection with Ngwa Road to the junction of Azikiwe Road by Asa Road.
He said that the 5.7kms stretch of the road, originally a four-lane carriage, is now being reconstructed and expanded to six lanes with lay-bys and drainage system.
“The 1.1kms corridor, which yields into Port Harcourt Road, will be reconstructed as a four-lane carriage with lay-bys and drainage. The entire 6.8km road will be properly marked and fitted with solar powered street lights”, he said.
In his remarks, the Group Managing Director, Julius Berger, Nigeria Limited, Dr Lars Richter promised to deliver the project based on specification, describing the project as another milestone for the 4 months old administration of Governor Alex Otti.
He commended Governor Alex Otti for his commitment to the infrastructural revolution of the State and thanked him for choosing Julius Berger to be part of his rebuilding agenda in the state.
In an interview, Abians from different political divides have unanimously hailed Gov. Alex Otti for his courage to award the reconstruction of the Port Harcourt Road Aba to Julius Berger.
A former Senate President and the Chairman Board of Trustees BOT, of the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party, Senator Adolphus Wabara, described the feat as “historic”
He said that Gov. Otti had already secured his second term mandate by his superlative performances so far.
“The Governor is reliable and a true man of honour. With this feat alone, his second term in office is already well assured. He is a Master Strategist. He wasn’t a top banker for nothing.”
Similarly, former Governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Dr Uchechukwu Ogah, also commended Gov. Otti for awarding the road project which he described as a signature project.
The former Minister of States for Solid Minerals and Steel Development, said that ” Dr Otti is already doing some of the things” himself would have done if elected Governor.
Ogah declared his total and unalloyed support for Otti, said he has no regrets supporting him during the polls.
”I have no regrets in supporting Dr Alex Otti because what he is doing is the same thing I would have done if I were elected the Governor.
”Remember I promised Aba people that seven days after my swearing in as Governor, I will bring Julius Berger to Aba to fix that Road, and Dr Otti has just done that.
”We know that JB is one of the best construction firms in the country, and they will do a quality job there. I’m in support of what he has done and I’m proud of him and will continue to give him support because this is what we have been waiting for for 24 years.”
The APC Governorship candidate who said he had similar manifesto with Otti, expressed delight that Abia had at last, become a preferred destination for investors.
”Investors are now coming in. Every day, every week he is doing something new for Abia people. Otti is somebody with capacity, and he can deliver on his mandate.
”You can see we had a similar blueprint when we were all contesting for governorship. He is doing great and I am supporting him, and will continue to support him.”
Reacting also, former State Chairman of the PDP and a Governorship aspirant, Senator Emma Nwaka commended Otti for the resolve to fix the Port Harcourt Road Aba which he said is of immense economic importance to the state.
He also commended the Governor for awarding the contract to a reputable grade A construction firm for a quality and durable work.
Senator Nwaka advocated the engagement of JB for other key road projects in the state.
”This road is not the only road we we are expecting JB to do in the state. It will be wonderful if it will also handle the Umuahia- Arochukwu Road which has been in terrible condition for years, to give the people a sense of belonging.”
The former PDP Chairman declared total support for Gov. Otti who, according to him, is a prayer answered to Abians.
Some business owners and road users including Mr Peter Azubuike and Mathias Ogbonna said that the road is strategic to the economic rejuvenation of Aba as it is the home of major fabrication outlets and heavy equipment, describing Governor Alex Otti as truly on a mission to rebuild Abia.
The event which saw a mammoth crowd of supporters and admirers was attended by the Deputy Governor, Engr. Ikechukwu Emetu,Wife of the Governor, Mrs Priscilia Otti, National and State Legislators,Captains of Industry among others.