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Lokoja-Benin Road: FG gives ultimatum to contractors to sign reviewed contract or face termination

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.Directs ministry to audit ongoing projects in 7 days

 

By AKOR SYLVESTER-Abuja

 

Minister of Works, Engr. Nweze David Umahi has directed  the contractors handling sections I- IV of Lokoja- Benin, Obajana Junction- Benin roads in Kogi and Edo States to immediately sign the new contract as reviewed or face the termination of their job by the federal government in accordance with the condition of service.

 

The directive was given to the contractors in a meeting with the  representatives of  Mothercat  Ltd, CCECC Ltd, Dantat & Sawoe Ltd, CGC Ltd and RCC Ltd held in Abuja Thursday.

 

Umahi further directed the Ministry  to, within 7 days, carry out a comprehensive audit of the ongoing  projects with a view to  knowing the status of work done, the capacity of personnel  and equipment being used by the contractors.

 

Speaking during the meeting, the Minister frowned at the pranks of the contractors who were part of the process of re-scoping and reviewing the contract specifications but failed to sign the review contract  documents after signing that they would do the job based on the new specification.

 

He said ”The project was initially N121 billion, but before the administration of President Ahmed Bola Tinubu, the project was already reviewed to about over N870 billion. When I came in as Minister, I saw that the project was over-bloated, and I refused to take the No Objection to FEC. I had to go through the road  myself, and I realized that some sections of the road could not survive asphalt. So we started meetings that took us over five months with all the contractors, and in the meetings, we agreed  to re-scope the project. So we re-scoped the project where we said okay, the new lanes should be done on concrete and the other ones done on asphalt. So we kept the contracts up and we all signed the documents and based on signing the documents, we took it to BPP and from BPP we went to FEC, and before we went to FEC, we demanded for them to approve that they can do the job. They all gave us letters of approval.”

 

He  wondered why  contractors were given jobs without having the required manpower and equipment to do the job, and warned that henceforth any contractor signing a contract must sign alongside the basic rate and timeline.

 

He said, ”So the position of the government is that if you are not signing the contracts between today and tomorrow, you will forgo the jobs. You can go to court.

 

“We will not enter into any condition for further negotiation. This contract is over N2 billion per kilometer. You don’t have equipment to do the work. Let me even assure you that if you are signing the contract, you will sign it alongside the basic rates. You sign it alongside the timetable, and you deploy in three sections, or I will terminate the job. Enough of playing with the psyche of the people.”

 

The minister further stated that the Ministry would not allow any contractor  to hold the country to ransom or to impose their conditions on the Ministry.

 

“You don’t want to work, leave the job. It’s not compulsory that you must be the one to do the job. You can not be on site, and the people are dying. The vehicles are falling down, and you’re playing politics with the lives of the people. And we fold our hands and leave you for what? You can’t be on site. .So if you are not working, pack your things out of that site.”

 

In his remarks,  the Director, Highways (SP) South, Engr. C.A Ogbuagu gave account of the techinical processes undertaken by the Ministry before  Federal Executive Council approved the  augmentation of the  project, which the contractors accepted,  and letters of award were given to them.

 

He wondered why the contractors refused  to sign the new document, saying” After the FEC’s approval of the argumentation, the legal department was brought in so that this new contract will now be executed so that work will continue on site. So, for about two weeks now, the draft addendum has been with the contractors, and none of them has positively responded, except  RCC.”

 

The CGC in his response, expressed commitment to the directive of the Minister and said, “for our side, and firstly for our section, and currently we are seriously working. And secondly, we have a sent the draft to the Head Office And there there is any issue, we have answered them and may be later tomorrow morning, we can get the approval from them so we can go ahead.”

 

It is hoped that the other contractors will sign the new contract latest Monday 29th April, 2024. and mobilize effectively to the site.

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