By Chris Ochayi
ABUJAâ€”The Federal Government has threatened to revoke the contracts for the construction of Kaduna Eastern Byepass awarded to Messrs Eksiogullari, over the firmâ€™s inability to complete the job at the stipulated time after collecting N4 billion in the last one year.
Minister of Works, Housing and Urban Development, Dr. Hassan Muhammad Lawal,who made the threat while on inspection tour of on-going Federal road projects in Kaduna and Katsina states, derided the contractor for undue delay of completion of the project, even when there was funds to execute it.
According to the minister, â€œI am grossly disappointed with the pace of work. Where a contractor does well, we will commend him. Where he does not do well, we will condemn himâ€.
â€œHe said the explanation of the contractor was mere excuse. I appreciate the fact that we experienced some challenges in terms of under funding in the previous years. But, since this Government came in, there had been remarkable improvement in the area of funding. Last year N3billion was made available for you to accessâ€, he said.
â€œThis year N1billion is in the budget, and I do not see any reason why a project of this nature should linger for 7 years. This is unacceptable, and I am really surprised. The essence of this Eastern Byepass is to complement the Western Byepass, so that at least, we decongest Kaduna Metropolis.
â€œBecause we know that Kaduna is a very busy town and that there is the need for this project to decongest Kaduna. I am really disappointed. If you agree to work in Nigeria you must work properly, whatever your foreign backgroundâ€¦ whatever his country is, can he start a project of this nature and spend 7 years under those mere excuses he is giving me.
â€œ I am giving you an ultimatum. Latest by end of January, 3 months from now, I will come back to this site, and I want to see improvement. If there is no improvement, be rest assured this job will be determined. The contract will be determined. The conditions of the contract are clear, and this Government is all out to ensure basic infrastructure in this country.
â€œFrom the way we are going round, and from the resources committed to road infrastructure, you know that it is not business as usual. We are not going to entertain any excuses from any contractor, because you cannot disappoint the Government of President Umaru Musa Yarâ€™Adua on his programmes to fulfil his election promisesâ€, he said.
Briefing the Minister earlier on the status of the project, the Director of Federal Highways Construction and Rehabilitation, Engr. Sani K. Haliru said the project was awarded in year 2002 in the sum of N16 billion with a completion period of 36 months. He said the contractor faced challenges over the course of time, but that they were ameliorated over two years ago, by putting enough fund in the budget to enable the contractor to continue with the construction.
Speaking to newsmen later at the Kaduna Government House, Minister of Works, Housing and Urban Development Dr. Hassan Muhammad Lawal observed that roads infrastructure was very close to the heart of President Umaru Musa Yarâ€™Adua.
He added; â€œthat is why he has committed so much resources to the sector since he came into office, and until he leaves office in the next 6 years God willing, road infrastructure will always be a priority. We will continue to do our best. But I will again appeal to Nigerians to remain patient and show more understanding, because like we always say, the contract for road construction is not the same as any contract for procurement of goods and services.
Many people are complaining that several contracts have been awarded but they donâ€™t see the results. Execution of road contract takes time. There are many challenges in implementing road contracts. It involves planning, it involves designing, it involves mobilization. It involves compensation and so many other matters.
It is not like simply spreading a mat. So people should understand. And, I believe that by the special grace of God, the rate at which we are working, by year 2011, the story will be different.