Nigeria's Minister of Works, Senator David Umahi, has ordered the arrest and prosecution of people obstructing and disturbing the ongoing construction works on the Aba – Port Harcourt Expressway, especially around the Aba-Ariaria International Market entry/exit point.
The minister, who spoke while inspecting the ongoing construction works, expressed shock that people converted the expressway medians into business shops, restaurants, parks and refuse dumps.
During the inspection at the weekend, traders, transporters, tricycle, and wheelbarrow operators were seen engaging in selling.
Expressing shock and disappointment over the scenario, Umahi ordered security operatives to arrest culprits for prosecution.
He also urged Gov. Otti of Abia State to quickly set up a task force to address the menace, including dumping of refuse, saying that the durability of the road would be guaranteed if people desist from dumping refuse and waterlogged containers.
Speaking on the ongoing construction works on the Enugu-Okigwe-Umuahia-Aba-Port Harcourt Expressway being handled by four contractors, each handling a segment, the minister commended the contractors, expressing optimism that their work pace would increase when their payments are duly effected.
Meanwhile, Umahi has tackled a budget-tracking organization known as TrackiNG accusing the Ministry of Work of flouting the Public Procurement Act by paying N8.6 billion into a microfinance bank for the execution of 58 projects in four states.
The minister, during an interview in Port Harcourt, yesterday, described the publication as corruption fighting back.
The Guardian learned that the tracking organization, in its X handle, revealed that between June and December 2023, the Federal Ministry of Works paid N8.6 billion to FIMS Microfinance Bank Ltd for the construction of road projects in Oyo, Benue, Ekiti and Kaduna. It noted that during the period, the ministry paid the bank to execute 58 projects.
It accused the ministry of violating and breaching the Public Procurement Act 2007 in the award of the N8.6 billion worth of contracts to a microfinance bank, which they said that by virtue of the Act, the bank is not qualified to undertake such projects.
But Umahi, while threatening to sue the organization, if it failed to tender an apology to him within seven days, argued that he was not in the picture when the money was appropriated or paid.