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April 16, 2024

Umahi clarifies issues around Lagos-Calabar coastal highway

Umahi clarifies issues around Lagos-Calabar coastal highway

Minister of Works, David Umahi

*Says cost of one kilometre of road is N4.329bn, not N8.59bn

By Kingsley Adegboye

Minister of Works, Engr. David Umahi, last week in Lagos clarified issues causing controversy over the 700-kilometre Lagos-Calabar coastal highway after the inspection tour of the coastal road arising from allegation of lack of transparency in the award and costing of the critical project that connects the South-west to the South-south of Nigeria.

The allegation was raised by former President of Nigeria and presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party PDP, in the 2023 election in Nigeria.

Senator Umahi at a press conference/stakeholders’ meeting, insisted that due process was followed in the award of the contract  to Hitech Construction Company without going through a public tender system.

Umahi stated that competence and track record, especially given that Hi-tech was instrumental to the reclamation work on the beach in Lagos, were some of the reasons the company was picked.

Former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, had a few days ago in a statement said the project had exposed the current administration’s alleged penchant for dubious and shady deals.

Atiku noted that the administration had while making the old project appear new, refused to make public the cost to tax payers.

He maintained that the announcement that the project had been awarded to Gilbert Chagoury’s Hitech Construction Company Limited (Hitech), an alleged friend of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, without any record of a competitive bidding or a decision by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) smacked of opaqueness.

“Till date, the Tinubu administration has refused to reveal how much the project will cost in total. Umahi, who even came on Channels Television recently, evaded questions as to the total cost of the project.

“But if 47.47km costs about N1.06 trillion, it means each kilometre is being built at N22.5 billion or $18 million. For a project that is going to be 700km, it means the total cost could be N15.7 trillion or $12.56 billion, which is higher than previous estimates,” he argued.

But Umahi argued that if the project was initiated by former President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration and reviewed by the Muhammadu Buhari administration, he wondered what personal interests they were pushing, since Tinubu was being accused of pursuing a personal interest.

He argued that Jonathan put the cost at about $12 billion, but was renegotiated by Buhari to around  $11.1 billion.

He pointed out that one way to tackle inflation, was to look at investment in infrastructure, stressing that that was exactly what the president was doing. “So there’s no personal interest associated with that,” he explained.

READ ALSO: Lagos-Calabar Coastal Highway, A highway to fraud — Atiku knocks Tinubu

On whether the project couldn’t have started from Calabar, rather than Lagos where it is likely to cause disruption to the Landmark Beach project, the minister explained that was the original plan. “We didn’t call it Calabar-Lagos-Coastal Road. You called it Lagos-Calabar-Coastal Road, which means that there is a zero point,” he added.

He emphasised that Chagoury’s Hitech was picked because of its capacity, insisting that there’s a part of the procurement  law that allows the government to pick contractors based on skills, rather than least cost.

“You have a section of the law that allows you to procure a particular project based on the skills a company has,”  he pointed out, citing the case of 3rd mainland Bridge that was awarded to Julius Berger because they have specialty in that aspect of work.

“So we invited them based on procurement act. And so the way you are doing such invitation, there must be proof of track record of a company that has done such works. And so they gave us a quotation. We ran it with them,” the minister explained.

He argued that handing over the project to Hitech remains an advantage to Nigeria because not only did they stop the flooding along the axis, they also reclaimed a lot of land and have turned  it to another Dubai.

The minister also disputed the figures churned out by Atiku, maintaining that the basis for his analysis was wrong and that it was about N4.329 billion per kilometre.

FG charges new 15-member QSRBN board on construction cost reduction

Minister of Housing and Urban Development, Arc. Musa Ahmed Dangiwa, has charge the just inaugurated 15-member board of the Quantity Surveyors’ Registration Board of Nigeria QSRBN, on reduction of cost of construction projects and procurement in the country.

Dangiwa made the charge while inaugurating the new board members weekend in Abuja.

Dangiwa who was flanked by the Minister of State for Housing and Urban Development, Abdullahi Gwarzo, and the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Dr. Marcus Olaniyi Ogunbiyi, also charged the board members to ensure that the board promotes principles of integrity, honesty, transparency, and fairness in the profession.

The Minister explained that the new board members were appointees of the Minister in accordance with Section 2 (1)b of the Quantity Surveyors (Registration etc) Act No. 31 of 1986 (Now CAP Q1, LFN, 2004); five appointees to represent the Nigerian Institute of Quantity Surveyors in accordance with Section 2(1) c of the Act and four (4) appointees representing institutions of higher education.

According to him, “The construction sector, of which Quantity Surveyors are a big part, is a major driver of employment and economic growth. As Board members, I ask you to leverage your wealth of experience and professional training, to ensure a reduction in the high cost of construction projects and procurement in the country.

“ I also charge you to ensure that the Board promotes principles of integrity, honesty, transparency, and fairness in the profession. This means accurate representation of project costs, avoiding conflicts of interest, and acting in the best interests of clients and the public. Integrity not only safeguards the reputation of individual practitioners but also enhances the credibility of the Quantity Surveying Profession.

 “At this juncture, I wish to commend the relationship between the Nigerian Institute of Quantity Surveyors and the Quantity Surveyors Registration Board which I understand has been very cordial. Your collaboration and mutual respect are worthy of emulation.

“I encourage you to keep it up. Let me congratulate all of you, once more, for this appointment. In accordance with First Schedule, Section 2(2) 7 of your Act, you are expected to elect a President among you to steer the affairs of the Board and I wish you a successful election’’.

Speaking on behalf of the newly inaugurated board members, Onasile Obafemi Oluwole, who expressed his delight over the appointment, promised that the 10th board of the QSRBN will continue to act in the best interest of the public. Oluwole, however, called on the Ministry to engage quantity surveying firms for consultancy, saying that quantity surveyors are ready to contribute their quota to the advancement of the built environment in the country.

Members of the new board are; Onashile Obafemi Oluwole; Pemi Samuel Temitope; Edem Patrick Theophilus;  Georgewill Oribu Oprite Monday; Dr. Bello Fatima Muhammad;  Gengle Abubakar Garba and Dr. Bashir Aminu Muhammad.