Tuesday, 29 October 2019

Odukpani-Itu-Ikot Ekpene Dualisation: House of Reps flays FG over partial award of road contract

29 October, 2019  

The House of Representatives Ad-hoc Committee on Abandoned Federal road in the country has expressed shock that the Odukpani-Itu-Ikot Ekpene dualisation road contract was not fully awarded by the federal government.

Contract for the dualisation of the road was awarded on April 24, 2018 by the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing with a completion duration of 30 months.

However, the committee was surprised to know that some sections of the road totalling 29.3 kilometres have not been awarded for construction.

Speaking to journalists on Saturday after inspecting the Akwa Ibom state stretch of the road from Ididep in Ibiono Ibom to Ayaedehe in Itu local government councils respectively, the chairman of the committee, Mr. Francis Udoyok, frowned at the exclusion of key sections of the road by the federal government.

"We have come to confirm that the so-called award for the dualization of Ikot Ekpene-Calabar-Itu road, is not in complete truth; a section of it has not been awarded.

"You can see that from where we stand which is the end of the beginning of section one, so to speak. Here is Ayadehe in Itu local government council to where you have the Power Plant in Odukpani local government council, is not awarded.

"Then after the Power Plant, is another award to Odukpani junction; even the beginning of the project from Ikot Ekpene to Ididep is not awarded. So we have a bad spot that is not awarded over 27 kilometres, then you come in-between and award about 21 kilometer, then you leave 29.3 kilometer and go and award another 9.3kilometer. So you can see the level of inconsistency.

"We know that as a committee, we are going to address this and we know that the Minister for Works will see reasons with us, possibly, send another advance inspection team to authenticate what we are coming with. For me, I believe that it is high time that value must be added to our money spent. We are happy that the company[Julius Berger], has been useful to us in showing what we need to see and in concluding our investigation, I think it will be something of great importance to better the lives of Nigerians", he said. 

The chairman, who led other six members of his ad-hoc committee, assured the people of the area and Nigerians at large that, when their report would have been handed over to the Minister of Works, the pains people are going through on the road would be a thing of the past.

"We are not comfortable with what we see, we know that the Minister of Works promised that is going to look at all the issues that we have raised, I am sure as a listening government something positive will be done to stop the suffering of the people. Some people spent six hours on this road and that is not commendable by any means and we expect the Federal Ministry of Works will leave up to it expectation by being proactive because we see no reason why the beginning of a road cannot be awarded but you award the middle, then the next middle is not awarded, then the other side is awarded, it is not commendable".

The committee acknowledged that the Calabar-Itu road traversed through about three states which makes it very important to the economy of the country, noting that, despite the paucity of funds, the committee would urge the federal government to release enough funds to the company handling the road so as to complete it on time.

"Besides, we intend to advise and suggest that this road should be one of the roads to be funded by Suku fund, where the contractor will be sure that whatever he is doing, he will be paid for and we know that Berger has a reputation and integrity in terms of construction in Nigeria and we expect them to leave up to expectation when they will be paid", he added.

However, despite the discrepancies noticed in the award of the contract, the chairman ruled out any foul play, promising that, those issues noticed would be addressed to the appropriate quarters for necessary actions to be taken especially in awarding those areas left out in the first exercise.

On whether the company has justified the money given to it for the job done so far, the committee said that "The Company raises issues that the advanced payment has not been completed and therefore they need money to complete the job. Every company will need complete payment of advance payment which is key to construction".

-The Nation Newspaper

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