By Perez Brisibe
THE company in charge of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, Shoreline Protection project in Bassambiri, Nembe local government area of Bayelsa State, Epenal Group, yesterday said a rise in militant activities and sea piracy between 2009 and 2014 amongst other challenges, forced it to abandon the project.
The company also debunked media reports that it collected 50 percent mobilization fee out of a reported N5.7billion as cost of the project stressing that the amount for the project which was awarded in 2009, was N3.9billion and it was paid 15percent mobilization.
Group general manager of the company, Numo Lele Aaron while speaking to Vanguard on allegations that the company had abandoned the project, said the company had to pay N10million as ransom for the release of its project manager who was abducted and beaten by his kidnappers during the execution of the project.
He said: “The contract for the Basambiri shoreline protection project is worth N3.9billion and was awarded to us in November, 2009 with 15 percent paid to us as mobilization fee after which we mobilized to site a year after with a 3year completion date.
“Unfortunately, owing to the upsurge in militancy, sea piracy, communal clashes, project variations and unfavorable weather conditions, we had to demobilize from the site.
“Before then, we had already spent more than the 15 percent mobilization paid to us by NDDC and subsequently submitted our Interim Payment Certificate to the commission with the last being in 2016, but the commission failed to respond to us.
“This was followed by a series of letters written to the commission without response. Part of the variation which arose between 2009 to 2014 during the height of sea piracy and militant activities, is the kidnapping of our project manager who was abducted and beaten while in custody until we had to pay N10million as ransom for his release.
“However, on the way forward, we believe there is no political seriousness on the part of NDDC. We need to sit down in a roundtable discussion with the commission to discuss and reappraise the variations surrounding the projects in terms of cost of production, inflation and other contingencies that arose over the years. We are ready and will remobilize to site when they are ready.”