Category Archives: Environment

Built environment, open spaces, flora and fauna, forests and reserves, endangered areas and species

How plastics damage our health in Nigeria

Budding environmental activist, Ifechi Anikwe, examines how single-use plastics damage our health and environment and suggests practical solutions.

Environmental pollution is now a buzzword we casually throw about, so much so that its meaning is almost completely lost. Yes, we all acknowledge that our environment is being polluted. But how many of us realise that, individually, we are major contributors to this pollution problem every single day? Do we even realise how bad and dangerous the situation has become? And how many of us know what simple things we can do to help us and future generations survive in the planet we live in?

Here’s what many do not appreciate about environmental pollution. Every time we throw away things we no longer need, there’s always the fear that this could create problems for humans, plant and animal life. If this does, we have inadvertently helped to pollute our environment. It’s that simple.

Think, for instance, about plastics which we use and discard everywhere, everyday. People casually throw plastics away in our schools, homes, markets, parks, offices and roadsides. We throw plastic bottles out of vehicle windows in Nigeria. Others fling into gutters plastic wrappers, plastic water bottles, juice bottles, sachet water, and everyday single use plastic like styrofoam plates, plastic straws and cutlery.

How plastics damage our health

We are praised whenever we do the right thing by packaging refuse in plastic bags to be collected by garbage trucks and deposited in landfills. But guess what? However we dispose of plastics, they find their way into water bodies – and we re-consume them one way or the other! On roadsides and at landfills, refuse and plastics decompose and give out dangerous gases that mix with the air we breathe. Contamination of decomposed plastic with air, soil, and water causes irreparable damage to human health and the growth of organisms.

How plastics damage our health

How plastics damage our health in Nigeria

Microplastics are extremely small pieces of plastic debris in the environment resulting from disposal and breakdown of consumer products and industrial waste.

They are known to be carcinogenic and mutagenic. Carcinogenic means that they are capable of causing cancer. Mutagenic means they can produce chemicals and radiations that multiply quickly to damage plant and animal life.

We use chemicals to produce plastic. Polyvinyl chloride, or PVC, Biphenol A or BPA, lead, Mercury, and Phthalates are some of the toxic chemicals used in making plastic. These chemicals are not only toxic but remain toxic for a long time. How long? Studies show that plastics can take up to 20 to 500 years to decompose.

Over time, any plastic can be broken down by biological and mechanical processes. In this state, the chemicals will find their way into the human food chain. How? When we drink contaminated water or consume toxicated seafood!

And this is where we find the bad news for our florA and fauna.

In humans, these toxins have been directly linked to infertility, birth defects, and cancer.

How plastics damage our health

In plants and animals, they cause destruction of ecosystems, ingestion and suffocation of marine species whenever plastic items find their way into water bodies. Thousands of sea birds and sea turtles die each year due to entanglement with plastic. Seals and sharks have been killed either by strangulation or by swallowing these products. Any animal unlucky enough to swallow microplastics will have its stomach filled up and its digestic tract blocked. Once this happens, the animal will no longer feel hungry and will gradually starve to death.

Governments can help

How plastics damage our health in Nigeria

Most people know the solution but cannot be bothered because they do not understand the gravity of the problem.

What is required is massive education and sensitisation on environmental issues. And the political will to deal with it. We can live cleaner, healthier lives.

For a start, governments at various tiers can enact proper laws and policies that make it easy for people to properly and hygienically dispose plastic. And also make it an enforceable offence to litter and pollute the environment.

At the basic level, environmental laws need to focus on management of garbage disposal, waste, and installation of recycling facilities

You and I can too

For governments, the simple solution to prevent plastics from finding their way into rivers and oceans is proper waste management and recycling.

Much however depend on us as individuals. Here are things every one of us can do:

  • We can limit plastic pollution by avoiding single use plastics such as plastic cutlery and plates. Rather than use plastic, we could switch to use of wooden pegs instead.
  • People can intentionally switch to reusable water bottles rather than continue with disposable water plastics.
  • Shopping? Take a cloth bag while shopping to reduce the use of plastic bags.
  • We could also reuse plastic containers instead of throwing them away immediately.
  • And all of us can join to educate those around us on the importance of reducing plastic consumption.

Conclusion

Without a doubt, one of the world’s greatest problems is plastic pollution. Who has not seen video clips of tonnes of plastic waste washing up onto beaches in coastal cities? Do we ask ourselves what danger we face with the result, which is microplastic pollution?

For now, Africa has not done much research on effects of microplastic pollution on plant and animal life in the continent. There is however one significant study that examined samples taken from four beaches in Lagos, Nigeria. The researcher found microplastic in all four samples, caused mostly by breakdown of larger plastic items due to littering and poor waste management. In other words our individual and government negligence encourage microplastic pollution.

Our public authorities are doing their best. However, most people agree that the level of sensitisation on environmental issues in Nigeria can be improved.

Nigeria needs to join the rest of the world in educating citizens and motivating them to reduce their demand and consumption of single use plastics. This is good for our health and it will help protect our flora and fauna.

How plastics damage our health in Nigeria

New Federal Tolling Policy: 10 highlights

Tolu Ogunlesi
Tolu Ogunlesi

Nigeria’s Cabinet Meeting of Wednesday, 11 August approved a new Federal Roads and Bridges Tolling Policy and Regulations, reports TOLU OGUNLUSI

One of the highlights of today’s Federal Executive Council (FEC) Meeting (Wednesday, August 11, 2021) is the APPROVAL of a new Federal Roads and Bridges Tolling Policy and Regulations. It has been undergoing development for a while now, and is now finally ready and has been approved by Cabinet.

According to the Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, SAN, briefing after the press after the Meeting, the Policy and accompanying Regulations were developed after extensive consultations with various Stakeholders within and outside the Government, including Transport Unions like NURTW, NARTO, RTEAN.

Also, a Willingness-To-Pay Survey was carried out, to arrive at the recommended pricing framework. The fees at existing tolled roads (Lagos and Abuja Airport Toll Plazas, and the Lekki and Ikoyi Toll Plazas) were also taken into consideration.

Highlights

10 Highlights of the new Federal Tolling Policy, as shared by the Minister, are as follows:

  1. It will be an Open Tolling system (just like the one that used to be in existence in the country), instead of a Closed Tolling system. (A Closed Tolling system means that you pay per distance traveled (‘distance-dependent’), while Open Tolling means you pay a fixed/flat rate that is not dependent on distance traveled)
  2. Only dual carriageways owned by the Federal Government will be eligible for tolling by the Federal Government. (Of the 35,000km of Federal Roads in existence in the country, only 5,050km are dual carriageway). Federal carriageways that are single, i.e. undivided highways will not be tolled. The only exceptions here will be some bridges, which are listed in the Policy.
  3. Toll Revenues will be used to maintain the roads and also to repay investors who have invested in building or completing a road under the Highway Development Management Initiative (HDMI).
  4. Electronic Toll Collection and Management systems will be prioritized over Cash systems.
  5. The following will be exempted from Tolling: Bicycles, Tricycles, Motorcycles, Diplomatic vehicles, Military and Paramilitary vehicles.
  6. The Tolling Policy is a broad National framework that will serve as a guide for States and Local Governments who seek to implement their own Tolling Policies. (As noted earlier, only about 16% of the total road network in Nigeria belongs to the Federal Government. States own/control roughly the same amount as the FG, while the rest – amounting to two-thirds are last-mile roads belonging to and under the responsibility of Local Governments).
  7. People who live around Toll Plaza Areas will benefit from what is called ‘Frequent User’ discounts, in line with global best practice.
  8. Recommended Tolling Fees in the Approved Policy and Regulations are as follows:
  • Cars: N200
  • SUVs: N300
  • Private Buses: N300
  • Commercial Buses: N150
  • Luxury Buses and Trucks: N500
  1. According to the Honorable Minister, the Federal Highways Act vests the power to toll (Federal Roads) in the Minister responsible for roads, but implementation of any tolling policy/regime involves many processes and multiple agencies, and therefore requires multi-stakeholder collaboration.
  2. According to the Minister, it is important to stress that even with this policy now approved, tolling is not going to start immediately. He very clearly said that Tolling will not start “until the roads are motorable.” This policy is a necessary condition for the implementation of Tolling, and it is now for people to start getting familiar with it and for relevant stakeholders to start using it as a basis for their financial modeling and investment analysis, ahead of the eventual rollout of Toll Plazas.

Warnings to Milliken Hill loggers; Govt sees red

Fed up with unheeded warnings to Milliken Hill loggers, Enugu authorizes police and civil defence to arrest and prosecute offenders.

The directive comes with final warning to loggers acused of threatening the scenic landscape and stability of its reconstructed road.

The actions of loggers “negatively affect the natural ecosystem, biodiversity and climate of the area,” Govt said in a statement.

Loggers cut down hundreds of trees in this scenic landscape, threatening to rob it of its tourism appeal.

Their actions, in addition, put the recently reconstructed Milliken Hill Road at risk, Govt spokesperson, Nnanyelugo Chidi Aroh said.

This continued denudation of the forest hill by “miscreants” is both “deliberate and wicked,” Aroh said in the statement.

Enugu State Government had hitherto issued repeated warnings to Milliken Hill loggers against the illegal activity. In addition, media reporters were taken on a conducted tour of the forest hill to further advertise the environmental threats.

Consequently, Aroh bemoaned these “illegal and senseless acts” threatening the environment and “stability and sustenance of the Milliken Hill Road.”

“Government wishes to reiterate its unwavering commitment to protection of the environment and all infrastructure in the State.

“Consequently, all those involved in this illegal and deforestation activities, are by this notice warned for the final time to desist from such activities.

“All relevant Government Agencies, including the Nigeria Police and Forest Guards, have been mandated as a matter of urgency to clamp down on all such activities and bring the perpetrators to justice.”

In addition, Govt pressed citizens who meet loggers in action to arrest or promptly report them to the security agencies.

Why Spices Lounge was shut by Enugu Govt

Officials of Enugu Capital Territory Development Authority (ECTDA) on Monday explained why they shut Spices Lounge, citing security concerns.

ECTDA chair, Joseph Onoh, said that Spices, a popular after-hours entertainment Club, became a “nuisance hub” and high-risk security zone.

Owners of similar businesses were formally advised to close down on 31 December 2020 and 16 May 2021, he explained.

Spices, one of the entertainment spots listed in the Enugu Metro Business Directory, is promoted by its owners as a relaxation spot “for beer lovers, football fans, (and) courtesans.”

Courtesans are commercial sex workers who serve wealthy, upper class clients.

Spices is located at Rangers Avenue in the upscale Independence Layout District, within a 3-minute drive to Enugu Government House.

Onoh said Spices does not have government approval to “operate such unwholesome activity.”

Their action, he said, succeeded in turning Independence layout into “a commercial (sex) district,” contrary to its original plan.

He described the Lounge as “a hub of prostitutes and … a high-risk avenue, sandwiched in-between financial institutions and capable of harboring criminal elements.”

“We sealed the place because it has become so notorious. Due to the insecurity and high level of criminal activities going on at this moment, it became necessary and in accordance to our earlier directives.

“Again, you know wherever there is a high level of these women of shenanigans there are always criminals.

“This is just an example of what to come if other operators refuse to abide by the code of conduct in business operations in Enugu.

“We are also sending strong warning and signals to other places of reckless packings and clusters of questionable characters to abate or face our sanction,” Onoh said.

He said many of the business are flouting business and zoning regulations because of the liberal disposition of the Governor.

“The Governor … has all the while maintained a peaceful coexistence in the state but his meekness has been abused by some people who take his benevolence for granted.

“Henceforth, everybody would have to sit up,” he warned.

Onoh said ECTDA Task Force will continue its clampdown on city flashpoints “until sanity is restored in the coal city.”

CLICK TO TWEET: Why Enugu State Government shut down Spices Lounge, a popular after-hours spot in the Coal City

Our shrinking civic spaces and ‘let’s move’ crowd

Ifeoma Malo argues that on the matter of our shrinking civic spaces, one of the biggest challenges holding Nigeria back is our unwillingness to revisit our history.

old pictureeque Ikoyi
Picturesque Old Ikoyi…
new ikoyi concrete jungle
… and a new concrete jungle

Thinking about our shrinking civic spaces, one of the biggest things holding Nigeria back as a country is the inability to revisit our history. We are so afraid of our history, of examining the lessons we can glean from it. We just continue to plod on hoping to somehow make progress without learning lessons from the past to guide us. Or to help us see why we are here and get an understanding of our identity.  

I see this in how we treat historical structures and spaces in Nigeria. On a recent trip to Lagos, a friend drove me through some of the neighborhoods I grew up in at old Ikoyi. I could barely recognize that neighborhood at all. It was all estate plus mini estates upon banks and shiny new commercial edifices. The number of old colonial buildings that have been torn down to make way for new banks, companies, and new estates is just depressing. Because a better part of my childhood was spent there, memories of parks, playgrounds, lots of green areas and trees came flooding back. Memories of beautiful trees and flowers that provided flora and fauna that added to the ecological beauty of the neighborhood. From the way things are going, given another 10 years, Ikoyi will surely be like Admiralty Way and indeed the whole of Lekki Phase 1!

The first time I went to Lekki Phase 1, it was to see my father’s farm. I must have been nine years old and Lekki Phase 1 was just a year or so old. This was close to 25 years ago. Before my eyes, I saw that the swampy region has been turned into a gleaming new residential estate. The second time, I entered into the estate and to an actual house in the old Phase I Lekki wasteland. This was shortly after another friend got married and invited me to her new home. I thought the concept of a gated estate was really nice.

Fast forward to about 20 years later after that visit. The entire Phase 1 has become almost unrecognizable. I shudder at the anyhowness that is now the landmark of structures that dot the estate, with shiny new blazing neon lights announcing a new business, bank, hotel, and even adult stores and night clubs at every street corner. I have gone back to Google images to try and remember what that piece of land looked like 40 years ago, 40 years and 20 years…

Yesterday, whilst leaving our team retreat venue in Wuse 2, Abuja, I noticed something happening at a popular park on Adetokunbo Ademola and has a large expanse of green areas, where folks could go and relax, eat fish under natural ambiance and have their kids play and relax. I saw that the place has been cordoned off. There is now a shopping mall being built there. However, one could still see the Park signage, including one that indicates clearly that the administration and management of this park falls under the Abuja Parks and Recreation Department.

I just shook my head as I drove away. Like really SMDH…

You all recall the governor that wanted to mow down the largest rain forest in the world located in the Niger Delta to build a superhighway? Yeah that was about to happen until a sustained global campaign halted things. It will still happen eventually. I have often joked that if the Taj Mahal, the Great China Walls or Egyptian Pyramids were in Nigeria, they would have long been dashed to a Nigerian big man who would have torn down all the tourist things going there to build an estate, or build a shopping mall…

It’s no longer a joke. Why does it look like Nigerians have a strong aversion to history or historical structures? On the matter of our shrinking civic spaces, we don’t like digging into our past, and we hate examining how we got here. This is why there is little progress, or they come in little snippets. How will we know what has been done, how we got here, what has been tried, and what pedagogy underpins what we do collectively? How will we know what steps we need to take to move forward, to develop collectively as a people and to avoid mistakes of the past? It is unfortunate that we will never know where we are going as a country …. can never move forward as a people when we so easily destroy, repackage and whitewash history and landmarks, we so easily move on and ignore history and what it teaches us. There can be little development, and no sustained progress without history, without looking back to benchmark or to hold ourselves to account so that we do better.

When we complain, we find that there are two sets of people asking us to take it easy or move on. The more dangerous of the two are not the fence sitters. Rather, they are the pacifists, the “let’s move on crowd.” They expect you to pass through any sort of anguish or trauma or experience whether good or bad, and just move on. While the fence sitters always want to mollify and do everything not to offend both sides, pacifists on the other hand have tools and instruments of change in their hands (those tools could be position, knowledge and information) but will prefer the house to burn down than say or do anything to set records straight and put us on the right path. The let’s move on crowd sound like they want development. They act like it. They say stuff that sounds like it. But watch closely; they are the complete anti-thesis of development. And they act for self-preservation.

Merchants battle Enugu landowners at New Artisan Market

A violent clash between an official demolition squad and shopowners left dozens wounded today as northern merchants battle Enugu landowners over ownership of the New Artisan Livestock Market.

Initially, residents of the area thought the clash was between officials of Enugu Capital Territory Development Authority (ECTDA) and northern traders whose shops were about to be demolished.

However, ECTDA took to Twitter to swiftly deny that it was involved in the clash. It described the attempt to link the Authority with the demolition and clash as a “misinformation.”

Enugu Metro investigations however show that the contest was between a landowner who came with a posse of security personnel to enforce a court judgement on the land.

We learnt that the late Igwe Raymond Nnaji of Akpugo had taken the Enugu State Government to court over ownership of the land where the Artisan Market is currently located.

According to a witness who is conversant with the case but pleaded to remain anonymous, the case was decided in favour of the family.

“Government did not contest the judgement and the family came today to enforce it when they met this resistance,” he said.

The traders who occupy the shops are mostly merchants bringing in cows and foodstuff from the northern region.

Their position, Enugu Metro learnt, is that the State Government officially relocated them from their old Ogui Road Market to the new site and has not given them a quit notice.

A lawyer who is conversant with the case told Enugu Metro that the Nwajanja family {as the late Igwe’s family is popularly known), has the title to the land.

“But the northern merchants occupied it illegally and built up the place. And now they are resisting the attempt to enforce the court judgement.”

The ECTDA statement indicates that the Government is yet to make up its mind how to respond to the tricky situation.

There were no reports of casualties from the violent clash, the first time that northern merchants will battle landowners in Enugu.

Ugwuanyi barricades Govt House, causing traffic gridlocks

Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi this week put up concrete barricades on major roads around Govt House Enugu, in a bid to ward off potential gunmen attack.

The barricades, placed in strategic artery roads around Lion Building, have however come at great and unbearable costs to citizens who live near or use the roads.

Enugu Metro learnt that South East Governors who met at Owerri on 11 April 2021 for a security summit went home and began fortifying their offices and residences.

The Enugu concrete barricades shut down a major approach road to the city as well as link roads created to ease traffic flow.

Enugu city commuters have expressed bitter disappointment at the development as this has denied them smooth rides along well paved roads in the upscale Independence Layout District.

Several citizens have taken to the social media to condemn the traffic disruptions caused by the concrete barricades.

One of them, a top cleric in Enugu poured out his frustrations with the South East Governors on Facebook where he said the following:

“With the rising spate of insecurity in the region, all they could think of is to run into their various state houses with their tails between their legs like cowards and block important roads to protect themselves, making life difficult for the people they are supposed to be their chief security officers.”

Another commuter interviewed by Enugu Metro at Nza Street used a traditional story telling approach to express his disappointment thusly:

“Once upon a time in a nearby community, there were rumors of attacks on households in a clan of five autonomous communities. The traditional ruler of one of the communities got worried and decided to take measures to secure and fortify his domain. After a meeting with other clan heads, he returned to tell the citizens that he has teamed up with his peers to stop the marauders, that they have created an organisation that will use the aura of the lion to deal with the security issue.

“Worried community members anxiously waited to see and feel enhanced security. Alas, they woke up one morning to see the Ruler has barricaded and secured only his Palace. His subjects were literally locked out to face the onslaught of whatever attacks may be imminent. We are looking on in shock as we view our ruler become so fearful and so selfish at the same time. But what can we do?” he concluded.

It’s for security of the Governor, officials say

An official who spoke on condition of anonymity, as he was not authorized to discuss it, justified the action on security grounds.

“We were advised that Government Houses in the South East could become the next targets of bandit attacks, the type going on at police stations.

“We had to carry out preemptive action to secure our Government House from easy access and attack by the criminals,” the official said.

Ugwuanyi barricades Govt House

Gov. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi barricades Govt House, blocking major road arteries and creating traffic gridlocks in Independent Layout District, Enugu City.

Cover Photo: Gridlock at Independence Avenue this evening

Govt adds N8.6bn to cost of Enugu-Onitsha Road Project

Federal Govt adds another N8.6bn to the cost of rehabilitating the dilapidated Enugu-Onitsha Highway project inherited from the Jonathan Administration.

Works Minister Babatunde Fashola said yesterday, 17 March, that government has detached a 22-kilometer stretch for re-award.

The cost of the new section was reviewed to N8.6bn and awarded to Niger Construction he said,.

The highway construction review took place at a meeting of the Federal Executive Council yesterday in Abuja, he said.

Niger Construction with operational headquarters in Warri, Delta State, is Nigerian subsidiary of the Middle East C.A.T. Group.

Fashola said the new contract for the 22-kilometer section will fast-track completion of the Enugu-Onitsha highway project.

The Minister did not however name the section of the road that was awarded to the new company.

The Jonathan Administration first awarded a contract to rehabilitate the Enugu-Onitsha highway in 2012 at a cost of N10.3bn.

The Buhari Administration formally took it over on 15 August 2018 but revised the contract sum upwards to N15.7bn, a 52 percent increase.

The increase, Fashola said at the time, was to pay for erosion control and drains along the highway.

The Minister blamed the Jonathan Administration for its “lack of appropriate budgeting and funding” which stalled the project.

He thereafter gave the contractor 42 months to deliver on the job.

In August 2020, the Anambra House of  Assembly confirmed that the Umunya-Awkuzu section of the expressway had been completed.

The contractor, they said, “embarked on the Amawbia-Awkuzu section and was doing well at a very good pace until the (Covid-19) lockdown.”

On 11 March 2020, the Federal Government detached the Enugu-9th Mile section from the contract and awarded it to the same contractor for N29.4billion.

With this latest award, Enugu Metro calculates that total cost has increased five-fold since the original contract was awarded in 2012.

The exact contract sum is not public as the Ministry does not publish comprehensive records of contracts on its website.

Toll Gates Return to South-East Highways

Federal toll gates are to return soon to two South-East highways as government hands over 12 highways to private investors.

Federal officials listed the two affected highways in the South East as both the Onitsha-Owerri-Aba and Enugu-Port Harcourt Expressways.

The deplorable Enugu-Onitsha Expressway is omitted under the plan, according to information obtained from Infrastructure Concession and Regulatory Commission (ICRC).

The private investors will takeover, rebuild and maintain the selected dozen roads and recoup their investments through the toll gates.

Other federal roads targeted for concession include Benin-Asaba, Abuja-Lokoja, Kano-Katsina, Shagamu-Benin, Abuja-Keffi-Akwanga, Kano-Shuari, Potiskum-Damaturu, Lokoja-Benin, Ilorin-Jebba, Lagos-Ota-Abeokuta, and Lagos-Badagry-Seme highways.

The Ministry of Works and Housing is promoting this novel idea which it calls Highway Development and Management Initiative (HDMI).

Officials confirm that the process for selecting investors to take over rebuilding and maintenance of the 12 highways has begun.

The investors are expected to sink in at least N1.134 trillion to the projects, Minister Raji Fashola said

Each road comes with “directional signages, well-equipped rest areas, round-the-clock security patrol, and ambulances for emergencies,” he said.

He praised HDMI as a home-grown effort to develop roads through investments that improve operation, management, and maintenance of highway assets.

“It delivers safer, enjoyable travel experience for road users as travel time is shortened, cost reduced and commercial activities stimulated.”

HDMI, according to him, complements President Buhari’s other infrastructure development initiatives which he listed as

  • Road Infrastructure Development and Refurbishment Investment Tax Credit Scheme Order of 2018 ,
  • Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund (PIDF) being managed by the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) and
  • The SUKUK Fund.

These President’s initiatives, he said, rely on private sector funding and participation to develop critical infrastructure across the country.

Fashola said HDMI will not only develop Nigeria’s network of roads corridors but will also boost economic development along federal highways.

“Apart from infrastructure and assets development, thousands of jobs will be created for Nigerians as the initiative will open up the highway economy with opportunities in various economic activities including fabrication of gantries and directional signages with advertising opportunities, towing van operations and auto repair stations, operation of rest areas and emergency services, among others.”

Permanent Secretary, Babangida Hussaini, said the initiative brings “order, efficiency, (and) accountability” to the management and maintenance” of highway assets.

FG awards Enugu-9th-Mile Expressway contract to RCC

The Federal Government has mobilised RCC to begin construction and rehabilitation of the road linking 82 Division to 9th Mile Corner in Enugu.

If all goes to plan, RCC is expected to move equipment to the site between today 9 November and Friday 13 November 2020 to start the job.

There were social media speculations here in Enugu that the State Government had awarded the contract.

This followed public pressure on the governor to show compassion for citizens by taking up construction of the federal road.

However, State Government spokesperson, Nnayelugo Chidi Aroh, told Enugu Metro at the weekend that this is not the case.

“The State Government is not doing federal projects for now, but I can confirm to you that contract for the road has been awarded to RCC,” he said.

Nnanyelugo Aroh said he is confident that the federal contractor will move to site between today and Wednesday this week.

Mr. Hakeem Bello, Special Adviser to Gov. Babatunde Fashola, the Works and Housing Minister, confirmed the happy news.

“The contractor (RCC) has already been given Engineer’s order … and is in the process of mobilizing to commence work,” he said.

This development will come as a huge relief to both residents of Enugu and travelers entering or leaving the city through its major outlets.

This is because the 82 Division to 9th Mile stretch is a critical link to all parts of the country from the Coal City.

From 82 Division in the City Centre, it directly connects the Abakaliki Highway to the East, and the Enugu-Port Harcourt Expressway to the South.

From the 9th Mile Corner end, it also directly connects to the Enugu – Makurdi Highway to the North and the Enugu – Onitsha Expressway to the West.

Over the past two years, the 17.5km stretch had taken a heavy toll on life and property before it completely deteriorated to become a death trap for motorists.

Google Maps currently estimates travel time of 45 minutes on the road due to its worsened state.

When it was first constructed, cars moving at moderate speed could cover the distance in 15 minutes or less.

Re-award of an old contract

Works & Housing Minister, Babatunde Fashola, had announced in March 2020 the re-award of the contract to the RCC.

The news appeared to have been drowned in the panic provoked by the onset of the Covid19 pandemic.

Fashola said then that the contract sum for the 15-kilomer stretch was for N29.4billion with a completion deadline of 24 months.

The Minister’s request to have the original contractor disengaged from the project was approved at the 11 March meeting of the Federal Executive Council.

The Council also approved his request to reaward the contract, he told state house reporters after the meeting.