Virtually all the infrastructure being developed by Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan’s administration has economic benefits to the people. The 162.27-kilometre Ughelli-Asaba Highway, which is currently being dualised is one of the star projects of the government. For the purpose of ease of construction, and its importance to the state, the road was divided into three sections. Contract for dualisation of Section C, a 46.27- kilometres road was awarded on November 14, 2008 at a cost of N16.8 billion. In the following month, contract for Section B, a stretch of 58 kilometres was awarded on December 14 at a cost of N15.3 billion, while contract for Section A, another 58 kilometres was awarded in February 2013 at a cost of N19.2 billion.
Notwithstanding the fact that it is a federal road, the Delta State government, having realised the social and economic benefits of the road, decided to embark on the project. The road connects Asaba, which is the political headquarters of the state with Warri, the main commercial centre of the state. It has the potential to become a major revenue earner for the state by increasing the tempo of economic activities. The transport sector will experience a boom due to heavy movement of goods. For instance, the connecting point of the road from the Asaba end is about ten minutes drive from Onitsha, the biggest market in sub-Saharan Africa. It is also estimated to be about 30 minutes away from the industrial town of Nnewi both in Anambra State.
Ken Okpara, Commissioner for Finance and Economic Planning, is convinced that the road will be able to get traders from the East to get their goods from the ports in Delta State. “We believe if we can do that, then we don’t have to be going to Lagos and you know what that would do to our economy. So providing this kind of first class highway is a solution to that, and that is why we went in there,” he explained.
The thinking in government cycles is that if the state can encourage more people to use the Warri port for instance by dualising the Ugheli-Asaba highway, that will encourage people from the South-east to bring their goods to Warri port rather than Lagos or any other port. This is part of Governor Uduaghan’s strategy for the actualisation of Delta beyond Oil.
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