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FG approves N59.8bn contracts for roads, others

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By Ben Agande
Abuja — The Federal Executive Council, FEC, yesterday, approved contracts worth N59.8 billion for road construction, rehabilitation of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Parliamentary building and the construction of the Mambila Hydro Electricity Dam projects.

Minister of Information, Mr Labaran Maku, who addressed State House correspondents after the meeting said the contracts were variously under the Ministries of the Federal Capital Territory, Niger Delta Affairs and Power.

The contracts approval were in addition to the approval of a  loan of $77 million (about N12 billion) for water projects in Lagos and Cross River states to “facilitate access to water in a number of cities and towns in the states.”

Maku, who was flanked at the briefing by the Ministers of states for the FCT, Niger Delta Affairs and Minister of Communications Technology said some of the contracts approved, yesterday, were the construction of a 23-kilometre Sagbemi-Kiribo-Gada-Egbekigbo in Ondo State at the cost of N3.555 billion with completion period of 24 months, while the augmentation on the contract for the Ibadan-Illorin road is at a cost of N444 million.

One of the bad roads in Bayelsa

Council also gave approval for the complete rehabilitation of the ECOWAS Parliamentary building in Abuja at the cost of N3.3 billion which will cover the roofing, seats, auditorium, elevators, library, electrical and mechanical installations.

Other decisions taken by council were the extension of service lanes from kilometer zero on the Niger bridge at Onitsha to kilometer one at a cost of N2.393 billion, and the signing of a memorandum of understanding with two Chinese companies for the construction of the Mambila and Zungeru hydro electricity dams which would be on the basis of build, operate and transfer with the Federal Government contributing 25 per cent equity share for the Zungeru dam while the Mambila dam would be fully funded by the company. The Mambila dam is expected to generate 3000 megawatt while the Zungeru dam is expected to generate 700 megawatt of electricity.

On loan for water projects in Lagos, C-River

Speaking on the proposed loan for water projects in Lagos and Cross River, Maku said of the $77.73 million, $43.92 million will go to Cross River, while  Lagos will get $33.83 million. The loan is being given on concessionary ground to these two states to rehabilitate urban water works.

He saiod: “In the case of Lagos, the loan has been granted to enable the Lagos State government improve the quality of water treated for public supply. Work is ongoing and this is a very strategic loan for a large city like Lagos.

“In the case of Cross River State, the loan  is to facilitate access to water through a network of supply to a number of cities and towns in the state. But the first is to extend water supply in the Calabar metropolitan area to ensure that all people living within Calabar have access to clean water through the public tap system.

Also speaking at yesterday’s briefing, Minister of Information and Communications Technology, Omobolaji Johnson, said government had taken measures to check the deteriorating quality of service among telecommunication service providers.

According to her, “the pace at which operators have been investing in expansion, modernization and upgrade of their infrastructure to cope with the demand for voice, data and SMS services. The second reason is the promotions that we are seeing by the operators that is causing the degradation of the networks, promotions that ask subscribers to come back, promotions that promise cars, houses, aero planes.

The third reason is the combination of the recent attacks on the base stations north east and the flood in the southern parts of the country which has compromised the quality of service and led to both redundancy of those networks. We have been in discussions with the network operators, the NCC and we are working to improve the quality of service.

“In the coming days, NCC would curtail or stop all promotions that either increase subscribers base that are the subscribers minutes or add to the subscriber base that are causing additional congestion on the network. The second thing we are looking at is if you recall we fined the operators based on their not meeting the quality of service status and we did worked with them after the fines and we agreed the term upon which they would upgrade their infrastructure and meet the new quality of service indicators. we also agreed that  in December, we would do another detailed review of the quality of service indicator and any network operator that  is found wanting will be appropriately sanctioned by the regulator.

I think at this point in time given the poor quality of service people are experiencing, we are not ruling out some kind of consumer compensation. We understand and feel the pains of Nigerians when you tried to make calls and you cannot make them

“The third thing we are doing is  talking to our state governors, federal and state ministries and agencies who inadvertently are creating bottle necks in the roll out of this infrastructure. It is a demand a supply issue and where we do not have a large enough infrastructure for the large population we have today. There a number of things such as procurement of rights of way, permits to build base stations that are taking too long and are costing too much. We are working the state governors and we have preliminary briefed to the National Economic Council, NEC  and we have begun to work with them to reduce all the bottle necks in the roll  out of infrastructure.

“Over the last one week or so you have been getting SMS when you make a call or send and SMS. This is a measures introduced by the NCC in an effort to increase the transparency in the billing irregularities that our network operators sometimes do. So you can actually  keep track of what is coming out of the pay as you go  or if you are on contract how much exactly you are spending.

“On number portability, we will start the live testing of our number portability in December and we will go live on a number of portability in the first quarter of next year and that will give Nigerian the ability to move networks according to their preferences, which of the network they prefer based on the quality of the service they are offering . I think I is important to also say that we are encouraging investments into the development of our ICT infrastructure”.

State House correspondents after FEC meeting, Information minister, Labaran Maku said the concessionary loan from a France agency will fund ongoing urban water projects in the two states.

He said the loan comprises of $43.9 million (N6.8bn) to Cross River and $33.8 million (about N5.2bn) to Lagos state.

Maku said “the loan is to facilitate access to water in a number cities and towns in the states. In Cross River, the loan will be used to provide water supply in Calabar metropolis, it will also cover Ogoja, Ikom and Obudu.”

On her part, the minister of state for Power, Zainab Kuchi said the federal government has entered into agreement with two Chinese companies to construct the Mambila and Zungeru hydroelectric dams.

She said the Mambila dam is  to generate 3050 megawatts while Zungeru will generate 700 megawatts of electricity.

“We have agreed with the consortium handling the projects to complete work by 2014 so that the president can commission them by the first quarter of 2015. The Mambila dam is to be built operate and transfer by Messrs Sino hydro while government is to provide 25 percent for Zungeru dam which is $309 million (about N49 billion)”, Kuchi said.

She said when completed the two projects will improve power supply in the country by contributing 3750 megawatts to the national grid.

Also speaking at the briefing, minister of state for FCT, Olajumoke Akinjide said FEC has also approved N3.3 billion for the rehabilitation work at the ECOWAS parliament building.

She said as host country of the sub-regional parliament, Nigeria is obligated to provide suitable accommodation for the ECOWAS parliament through the FCT annual budget.

Akinjide said the rehabilitation work awarded to Julius Berger will cover the roofing, seats, auditorium, elevators, library, electrical and mechanical installations.

Maku said the council also approved N2.3 billion for expansion work on the service lane of the Niger bridge at Onitsha. FEC also approved a N444 million for completion of the Ibadan-Oyo section of the Ilorin-Ibadan express way.

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