FOREIGN CONTRACTORS SHUN LOKOJA-OKENE-BENIN ROAD OVER KIDNAPPINGS

Okechukwu Nnodim, Abuja

Chinese expatriates have refused to return to the Obajana-Okene Road construction site, which is the section one of the Lokoja-Okene-Benin Road that is currently being constructed and rehabilitated by the Federal Government, investigations by Saturday PUNCH have revealed.

It was learnt that the foreign nationals decided to steer clear of that section of the road as a result of the series of kidnappings perpetrated by abductors in that axis.

Although Nigerians have taken over the construction of the road, it was further learnt that security was still a challenge on the Obajana-Okene end of it.

The Project Manager, CGC Nigeria Limited, the firm that is in charge of the dualisation of the road, Yaba Abubakar, stated that four Chinese were abducted while working on the road, a development that made them decide not to return after they were released.

Abubakar, who spoke during an inspection tour of the various sections of the Lokoja-Okene-Benin Road on Friday by officials of the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing, stated that CGC had reported the cases to security agencies but that this was not enough reason to make the expatriates change their minds.

He said, “Actually, on several occasions, we reported to the authorities that our expatriates were being kidnapped. In fact, about four Chinese were kidnapped while working on this project. Presently, we are working with some security agents, but up till this moment, the security agents’ presence cannot guarantee the return of the Chinese experts.

“The experts were kidnapped and released after the payment of ransoms and this started sometime in 2014 till the Chinese decided to leave the project site. Right now, all the workers here are Nigerians and the project is being handled by our citizens.”

He also stated that CGC was ready to commence work on the second phase of the road, provided there was adequate funding.

The Project Supervisor in charge of the dualisation of the Lokoja-Benin Road, Section One, Eleweke Ndubuisi, stated that the first phase of the project was awarded in December 2012 to serve as Okene bypass in order to address the delays faced by commuters in Okene town.

Also, the Chief Engineer for the consultant of the project, Edema Omoshile, said they designed the project and that their role as consultants was to give technical support to the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing, with respect to the supervision of the project.

He added, “We have told the contractor that he has to make sure that this project is delivered even before October 2019. This is because the initial contract period was to end in October 2017, but this wasn’t so because of security issues and inadequate funding in the past.”

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