Abia State set to reconstruct PH (Port Harcourt) Road, Aba’s main gateway as Gov Alex Otti flags off project yesterday.

The construction giant, Julius Berger Plc, won the road contract with great expectations from the Governor.

The Governor said he hopes the road will “rejuvenate Aba and bring about the city’s economic development for investments to thrive.”

Gov Otti pledged at the ceremony to go beyond the road contract to “reset the fundamentals of the city.”

He will do this 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.”

Originally constructed four decades ago by late Gov Sam Mbakwe of old Imo State, Port Harcourt Road used to be a bustling hub for economic activities. Unfortunately, it was left to deteriorate by old Imo and succeeding Abia governors.

Governor Otti yesterday expressed a commitment “to restore the road to its former glory and make it even more economically viable.”

Breaking the jinx

Gov Otti said he resolved to break the jinx of Port Harcourt Road, Aba in order to revive the long-abandoned economic activities along this corridor.

He recalled that activities on the road 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,”

The Contract

… Port Harcourt Road, Aba today

Abia Works Commissioner, Otumchere Oti, explained that Julius Berger will reconstruct a total of 6.8 kilometers of roads in two parts.

The first part is a 5.7 km stretch beginning from Port Harcourt Road by Ngwa Road to the end at the intersection with the Enugu-Umuahia-Aba-Port Harcourt Expressway by Alaoji, he said.

The contractor will reconstruct and expand the original four-lane highway into six lanes “with lay-bys and drainage system.”

The second part is a 1.1km road from the intersection with Ngwa Road to the junction of Azikiwe Road by Asa Road, which will yield into Port Harcourt Road. It is being reconstructed as “a four-lane carriage with lay-bys and drainage.”

The commissioner said the entire 6.8km roads will be properly marked and fitted with solar powered street lights,.

Costs and timeline

On his part, Gov Otti said the road project will be delivered within 18 months and pledged to meet agreed funding timelines.

He however did not disclose the project cost, a trend that features in almost all recent subnational contracts in Nigeria.

Nevertheless, Gov Otti pledged to pay Julius Berger on schedule to avoid setbacks arising from delayed payment.

Government, he said, set up “a robust financing structure to see that we complete the payment on schedule to eliminate any setbacks arising from payment delays,”

The Contract Scope

Gov Otti said Julius Berger won the contract because his administration is anxious to achieve the highest quality standard.

“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 … 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 seeing 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. “ Group managing Director of Julius Berger, Dr. Lars Richter, promised to deliver to specification and thanked him for the consideration.

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