The Federal Government yesterday formally kicked off the construction of the first phase of the 700-kilometre Lagos to Calabar coastal superhighway.

Works Minister David Umahi handed over the 47.47 kilometres of the project site to the contractor, Hitech Construction Nigeria Limited.

Umahi made the formal transfer when he visited the construction site to inspect the progress of work.

The minister said the project was expected to be completed within 36 months with sections two and three running concurrently.

The Federal Executive Council (FEC) had, on February 26, approved the construction of the Lagos-Port Harcourt-Calabar coastal superhighway to Hitech Construction.

It said the first phase, comprising 47 kilometres, would begin in Lagos.

During yesterday’s formal handover, Umahi praised the contractor for promptly mobilising to site.

“Within a couple of weeks, we awarded the project to them, they mobilised a lot of dredging equipment, and you can see that they have recovered 1.3 kilometres of Section One of the phase,” he said.

But the minister stressed the essence of on-time project completion, warning the contractor that no additional payments would be made for delays.

He said: “Let me also say that today is March 7, and I am officially handing over the site to Hitech Construction Company of Nigeria Limited.

“So, every timetable for the job starts running from today. We’ve already said as a policy of the Ministry of Works that we will not pay variation for any delayed projects.

“Well, we have to say that for the sake of saying, because Hitech is noted for performance and for beating time.

“The time for this Section One is 36 months. It is going to run concurrent with sections Two and Three. But right now, I am handing over Section One to Hitech Construction Nigeria Limited for them to start work. We’ve been to this corridor before, but today is to hand over the site.”

Umahi also handed over the site to Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) to ensure environmental compliance, saying the two companies would work together.

The minister hailed the Lagos State government for making a section of the gazetted route free for the project.

He said this demonstrated the government’s support for the completion of the project on time.

Umahi directed that the realignment done from Kilometre 16, which had been approved by President Bola Tinubu, be followed.

He advised Hitech to immediately begin work on the designated right of way, stressing that the company’s swift progress had been evident in the 1.3 kilometre of completed dredging since the project’s award.

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