By Favour Nnabugwu
Apparently not pleased with the attitudes of some of the contractors handling federal road projects in the South-East geopolitical zone of the country, Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, has noted that his ministry will henceforth commence on-the-spot visit to ongoing projects in the zone which includes Enugu, Abia, Imo, Ebonyi and Anambra states, to evaluate the performance of the contractors as part of the conditions for awarding contracts to them in the future.
Fashola who made the disclosure while on a three-day inspection of federal road projects in the South-East recently, said: “I think it is high time we started to evaluate contractors on their past performance as part of the conditions for such companies to get new contracts.
“We will also pay on-the-spot visit to sites to see the progress of work, not the old ways of contractors moving to sites a week or two when they have knowledge of the Ministry’s planned visits,” he said.
The Minister also addressed the issue of contractors’ evaluation, saying contractors will henceforth be evaluated on their past performances before they can get new contracts from the Federal Government and that poor or non-performing contractors should not expect to be considered for new contracts. He lamented over the attitudes of some contractors towards their jobs even after they have received their certificates of contract awards.
According to the minister, amid the demands of another Sukuk funds, the Federal Government is investing N16.6 billion of the N100 billion Sukuk Bond for rehabilitation of some roads in the South-East geopolitical zone. This fund is needed to pay contractors within the zone.”
The Minister admitted that a section of the road is always busy with vehicular activities, stating that the contractor had to construct concrete drains in the middle, to protect the road.
He noted that the Sukuk intervention is making progress and will do more Sukuks in order to get more money to give contractors, pointing out that the road is 40 per cent completed. He, however, revealed that one of the major problems that has narrowed the industrialisation of Nigeria has been the need to have stable and cheap electricity.
After inspecting the Ariaria market in Aba, Fashola commissioned some electrification projects in the commercial city of Aba. The minister noted that the market is an example of what true public service commitment can deliver.
Fashola who disclosed that the market was spending over N7 million daily to power generators, said the Federal Government will install 150 transformers of 100 KVA each in Ariaria market, adding that the transformers will provide electricity to 37,000 shops in the first phase and 50,000 shops in the second phase which will directly impact the lives of about 100,000 people in Aba, the commercial hub of Abia State.
While inspecting the Ikot-Ekpene Border-Aba-Owerri dualisation road, Section I, Phase I, the minister said the current Buhari administration paid road contractors in the South-East more than the previous administration of Goodluck Jonathan. He told the contractor handling the project that the Federal Government has so far paid Arab Contractors double the amount paid to them by the previous government for the construction of the 11.26km Ikot-Ekpene Border-Aba-Owerri dualisation road, Section 1, Phase 1.
Fashola revealed that compared to the previous government’s payment of N567, 148,219.75 in four years, the present administration has in two years, so far paid N1, 094,798,091.81 for the project estimated at N3, 780,988,125.0. He added that change means that the beneficiaries of the road are satisfied with what the President is doing.
Fashola added that the contractor promised that the section will be completed before December and the overlays will be completed early next year.
Meanwhile, the Minister who also inspected one of the housing projects in the state, said that the government has approved the payment of over N4 billion as payment to contractors of national housing programme, adding that, the work is in progress and further payment has been approved for contractors under the housing scheme to ensure that each contractor will get his own verified portion across the states that the work has been certified for payment.
The Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Arab Contractors, Engr. Mohammed El-Edaros, confirmed Fashola’s statement on payment of contractors. He affirmed that the payment they received in four years in the last administration is equivalent to the payment for just two years in this administration, adding that they are being paid and are doing the work.