By Usman Aliyu, Benin.
The Edo State Government says it has awarded contracts for the construction of about 886 kilometres of roads since the inception of Gov. Godwin Obaseki’s administration in 2016.
The Commissioner for Roads and Bridges, Mr Newton Okojie, told a news conference in Benin on Thursday that 546 kilometres of the roads had been completed and put to use across the state.
He said that the news conference became necessary to address pockets of protests by members of the public on what they called “deplorable state of roads in some areas’’.
Okojie said: “During the campaigns, Gov. Godwin Obaseki presented his agenda and roadmap of Making Edo Great Again (MEGA).
“One of the principal focuses of the agenda is infrastructural development; the dream is to make Edo the preferred destination for work and living by 2050.
“I reassure the people of Edo that government remains focused and 100-per-cent committed to making the dream come true.
“A study carried out by one of our consultants in 2016 showed that Edo has about 9,700 kilometres of roads.
“Expansion in communities must have increased the figure by now,’’ he said.
Okojie added that out of the 9,700 kilometres of roads, about 2,700 kilometres are paved, while the remaining 7,000 kilometres are unpaved.
“There is a total length of about 763 kilometres of federal roads in Edo, all of which are paved.
“I am giving this information to give the public a glimpse of the enormity of the challenge facing the state in having to construct an outstanding 7,000 kilometres of roads.
“When we came on board, the first task the governor gave us was to prepare a plan to close the infrastructural deficit as regards roads.
“He directed that the plan must be sustainable and implementable over the next 30 years. He would implement part of it and handover to the successor administration to continue from wherever he stopped.’’
The commissioner said that the plan was to construct 3,150 kilometres of roads within the next 30 years, amounting to an average of 105 kilometres every year, subject to available resources.
He noted that road construction work slowed down because of rainfall and assured that work would begin as soon as dry season set in.
Okojie was joined at the news briefing by his counterpart at the Ministry of Environment and Sustainability, Mr Jonathan Lawani.
Lawani blamed improper disposal of refuse for the failing portions of roads in the state, saying that pervasive and indiscriminate dumping of refuse had led to flooding that damaged roads.