By Kanjal Godshield
As part of the strategy for the increase in productivity and labor, the United Cement Company of Nigeria Limited, UNICEM is spending over N9billion in the construction of a 20-kilometre concrete and asphalt paved road to link two federal roads for easy evacuation of cement in its’ line II cement plant in Cross River State.
The Managing Director of the company, Mr. Olivier Lenoir, who made the disclosure recently during a media tour of the line II evacuation road project embarked by the company, added that the roads under construction include the Calabar-Oban road and the Calabar-Odukpani high way.
This, the company added was providing an excellent opportunity to test and perfect the use of cement in road pavement as a more sustainable alternative to asphalt.
Also, the project consists of two bridges and other adjoining culverts including the Etamkpini bridge, Great Qua bridge, among others.
The MD stressed that, the project, which was initially estimated to cost about 5bn Naira, began in September 2010 and was billed for completion in December 2012, but was however reviewed for extension till 2016, with additional cost totaling over N9billion, adding that this was due to some hitches including the inclement weather and large amount of swamp on the major areas among others.
According to him, “The review in scope of the project, challenging alignment of the road due to vast swamp and limestone rocks deposit on the right of way and inclement weather due to excessive rainfall experienced in Cross River State have been the major limitations to early completion of this project”, he said.
On the current position with respect to the levy charged by government on the Atimbo-Calabar road, the MD added that “Government has been collecting the levy of N12, 800 per truck since 2013 September as you have rightly mentioned.
“We understand it is meant for road rehabilitation and we expect accordingly that the proceeds from the levy will be utilized in that regard. It is Government’s responsibility to do so and not UniCem. We were demonstrating goodwill when we did the rehabilitation in the past before 2013. The current repair carried out by FERMA is commendable and should be sustained.
Mr. Lenoir said the roads, when completed, would add value to lives in the state, just as he maintained that the project was going to create access to communities that had never witnessed such infrastructural development, adding economic value to the surrounding land, providing employment for the locals during the construction phase and also providing access to farmers and traders to take their products to the market.
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