Senator Peter Nwaoboshi, Chairman of Senate Committee on Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, has expressed concern over the level of abdication of responsibility in terms of paymrnt to contractors engaged in developing projects by the commission.
He addressed contractors and NDDC officials at the site of a major construction project at the Niger Delta University in Amassoma, Bayelsa State, when an inspection team comprising members of his committee toured NDDC projects throughout the nine states covered by the commission’s mandate.
While some members of the team expressed disappointment over the abandonment of some projects by the contractors and advocated holding a public hearing on the issue, the chairman said that in many of the cases, they had observed that the commission’s withholding of payments due to the contractors was clearly wrong.
He expressed the belief that in such cases, the first priority should be to encourage the NDDC to live up to its obligations so that the projects could be completed.
The two projects visited in Amassoma were students’ hostels that had been awarded over a decade ago. One of the main contractors, Blesson Akpuluma, the CEO of SAVRITE Construction, narrated his experience in executing the projects.
He pointed out that when the projects were awarded, the site was inaccessible, adding that it was later shifted after a state government sand-filling initiative.
According to him, that was only one of several obstacles that had delayed the take-off of construction, but when the NDDC agreed to send the contractors back to the site, they did not provide the necessary funding and payment of variations arising from the problematic nature of the projects.
Despite this, the contractors had re-commenced work and achieved a notable level of completion.
Senator Nwaoboshi said, that the committee’s mandate was first to ensure that if the projects were viable, they should be completed and if it was determined that the contractors were properly deployed and ready to complete their tasks, they should be encouraged to do so.