FG cancels N121bn Abuja-Lokoja-Benin Expressway contract

From Isaac Anumihe, Abuja

The Federal Government yesterday,  terminated the 18 years old N121 billion Abuja-Lokoja-Benin Expressway contract.

This was as it offered the contractors the  right of first refusal to sign a new contract as soon as possible or leave the site.

Addressing the contractors which included; Mother Cat, Dantata & Sowoe, CGC, CCECC,  Julius Berger and RCC, in Abuja, Minister of Works, Mr. Dave Umahi, said the initial cost of the project was N121 billion but was reviewed upward to N877 billion.

According to him, when he discovered that the project was overbloated, he personally travelled through the road and discovered that some sections cannot survive with asphalt, compelling him to order that the new lanes be on concrete.

Consequently, he said he took the contract to the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) and the Federal Executive Council (FEC) and got approvals from them.

Umahi condemned a situation where contractors will get over 17 contracts without having the requsite skills, equipment and personnel to execute the job.

“Enough of playing with the psyche of the people. I have directed the Ministry to audit all the projects that are ongoing and let us know the equipment on site, the skills and personnel available. No contractor will tell us that it is looking for approval from their head office. They are registered in Nigeria,”.

Umahi wondered why a contractor  in Nigeria will want the Government to do its bidding.

He expressed dissatisfaction over the arrogance of the contractors in Nigeria.

“The arrogance of contractors in this country is very insulting. In the Ministry of Works, most of the contractors have 17 contracts and they have no equipment to execute them,” Umahi noted.

The Minister also observed that the issue of the Abuja-Lokoja-Benin Expressway contract has been dragging since September last year and Nigerians are asking questions regarding the contract.

“Any contractor that is not ready to discuss the project in the public can leave the site,” he warned.

Due to the peculiarity of the project, the government isolated the project and called it a ‘Special Project’ and it was approved to be a tax credit.

Recall that the dualisation of the Abuja-Lokoja-Benin Expressway was awarded 18 years ago by President Olusegun Obasanjo administration.

Several administrations have given completion dates for the road project but unfortunately, the project has remained uncompleted till date.

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