Senate Committee on Works on Wednesday in Abuja queried the zero implementation of some 11 road contracts that were awarded by the Ministry of Works, despite the release of mobilisation fees for them.
Chairman of the Committee, Senator Kabiru Gaya, who queried the development during the 2016 Budget defence of the Ministry, declared the action as unacceptable.
He, however, directed the Ministry to feed the Committee with details of the contracts that were awarded in 2015 and their status at a later date.
“11 contractors have collected mobilization fees, and there is zero implementation. Some collected N500 million, and one of the contractors collected N1 billion.
“For instance, in the case of the dualisation of Otukpo township road, N1 billion was paid to the contractors.
“Minister, you need to check that and give us details in the next meeting. There is no point giving a contractor mobilization fee when he cannot perform,” Gaya said.
Speaking on the Ministry’s 2016 Budget proposal, the Chairman pointed out some roads in the country that were given zero allocation.
He urged the Minister to consider some of the roads in view of their link to major cities in the country.
Gaya said that the Committee would work on the Budget proposal to ensure that funds are properly and adequately allocated.
“I appreciate your effort and concern, Honourable Minister; but we have to know what you are spending every year on the road, and how to generate funds, and see how we can achieve success,” he added.
Responding to the queries, the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, explained that not all the contractors who were mobilized had zero performance.
“It is important to take the assessment that the committee has made on mobilization into context. In my document, contract performance is not zero.
“My understanding here is that going by the entire contract sum of N9.9 billion, by law, the contractors should get at least 15 percent to move to site.
“The part where we have zero performance in the document, if a contractor was supposed to get N1.5 million, and he got N500 million, he cannot be mobilised. We will check and get back to you,” he said.
Speaking on the 2016 Budget proposal, Fashola said the sum of N10 billion was budgeted for work on the Abuja-Lokoja road.
He also said the sum of N16 billion was earmarked for Kano-Maiduguri road, while the rehabilitation of Apapa-Oshodi road would gulp N5 billion among others.
According to him, in a bid to do achieve result, the Ministry has come up with a plan to implement road projects based on needs.
“The purpose of the plan is to first address economic routes so that a section can at least be completed.
“For 16 years, we have not finished the Lagos-Ibadan road. So, we want to work in one place at a time.
“The 2nd Niger Bridge is another project that is of priority because of its importance.
“We will then strengthen FERMA (Federal Road Maintenance Agency) to become the biggest construction company owned by government so that some construction works can be carried out by them,” he said.
He said that the Ministry would consider public private partnership (PPP) to adequately generate funds for completion of road projects across the country.
He, however, called for review of relevant laws to fast-track the processes involved in public, private partnership.
He added that the hitches experienced in the course of such partnership had discouraged investors over time.
– Teddy Nwanunobi, Abuja