By Angela Okpe
Warri—The Technical Director of Chemical Engineering and Construction Company Limited, SMIEC, Engr. Mma Okezie, has expressed shock over the purported invitation of the owner of the company by the Senate Committee on Niger Delta, over alleged abandonment of Shore Production project at Koko, Warri North, Delta State.
Speaking with journalists in Warri, Delta State, Okezie said that the company will welcome such invitation as it would enable it give reasons why work on the project was suspended.
Reports had it that a serving Senator was linked to the abandoned project, while the company’s Managing Director, Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, was reportedly summoned by the Senate committee, to explain why the project, for which the company was paid N2 billion, was abandoned.
The summon, followed an oversight tour by members of the Committee on Niger Delta, of projects by the NDDC in Delta State, last week, during which the committee’s Chairman, Senator Peter Nwaoboshi, expressed disappointment at the level of work at the Koko Shore Production Project.
Nwaoboshi, who disclosed that over N2 billion had been released to the contractor for the project, informed that the legal department would expedite action in recovering the money paid to the contractor.
However, Okezie insisted that the company had not received any invitation to that effect. He said: “For the purpose of clarification, the contract for the project was awarded to SMIEC in 2007 following a very competitive tender process. Shortly after the commencement of the project, the scope of the project was reduced by 50 percent, reducing the earlier planned 6km shoreline protection project to a 3km stretch, following what was explained as budgetary constraints.
He said: ”Work commenced subsequently and was well over 78 percent completion when a protest by the Koko community demanding the execution of the project as initially conceptualized, alongside issues of security, led to a brief suspension of work.
“Following serious efforts, intervention and review by the NDDC, the situation was resolved, with the contract being reverted to the original scope and work resumed. But by this time, the security situation had become quite serious and indeed, was affecting the pace of work.
“The subsequent massive flooding of the area in 2012 created a force majeure situation that made a bad situation worse.”