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NEWS: UMAHI READS RIOT ACT TO LOKOJA-BENIN ROAD CONTRACTORS ..... Insists Contractors Must Sign Reviewed Contract Documents Or Face Stiffer Sanctions, Job Termination

Engr David Umahi
Minister of Works

...... Orders Immediate Audit Of All Ongoing Projects Including Personnel, Equipment Within 7 Days.

Minister of of Works, Engr. David Umahi in his avowed commitment to deliver on the Renewed Hope Agenda of the Bola Ahmed Tinubu administration as regards quality and motorable roads in Nigeria, has directed the contractors handling sections I- IV of the Lokoja-Benin, Obajana Junction-Benin roads in Kogi and Edo States, to immediately sign the reviewed contracts or face the termination of their job by the Federal Ministry of Works in accordance with the condition of service. 

This directive was handed down to the contractors in a meeting with the  representatives of MotherCat Ltd, CCECC Ltd, Dantata & Sawoe Ltd, CGC Ltd and RCC Ltd, held on 25th April 2024 at the Ministry's Headquarters, Mabushi-Abuja.

The Minister, at the meeting with the contractors, 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.

Cross section of the contractors at the meeting

Dr. Umahi frowned at the pranks of the contractors who were part of the process of re-scoping and reviewing the contract specifications, but have failed to sign the reviewed contract documents, even after signing that they would do the job based on the new specification.

He disclosed that the project, which was initially put at N121 billion before the administration of President Ahmed Bola Tinubu, was 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 then realized that some sections of the road could not survive asphalt. We started meetings that took us over five months with all the contractors, and in the meetings, we agreed  to re-scope the project. The project was re-scoped to an extent that we said okay, the new lanes should be done on concrete and the other ones done on asphalt."

Umahi further revealed that the contracts were kept intact and the documents properly signed and taken to the Federal Executive Council, FEC while also, pointing out before approaching the FEC, the contractors, "we demanded for them to approve that they can do the job. They all gave us letters of approval.” 

He however wondered why any  contractors would be given jobs without having the required manpower and equipment to do the job, warning 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." He stated.

He 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."

L-R: Ben Bem Goongs, Director Press and PR of the Ministry and Barr. Orji Uchenna Orji, Adviser on Media to the Minister taking down notes during the meeting.

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

Engr. Ogbuagu wondered why the contractors refused to sign the new document. He said,"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 its reply, expressed commitment to the directive of the Works Minister, assuring that they have already dispatched a draft letter to their Head Office and, immediately that is obtained, they will 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.

This was contained in a statement issued and signed by Barrister Orji Uchenna Orji Esq, the Special Adviser on Media to the Honourable Minister of Works.

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