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Contractors gave up on building and renovating roads after receiving N184 billion.” — Senator Mpigi

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“On Monday, a joint committee of the National Assembly disclosed the identities of road contractors who had neglected to commence or finish their job subsequent to receiving funding from the government.

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The information was revealed when the Federal Ministry of Works presented its budget defense for 2024 to the Senate Committee on Works and the Joint House of Representatives. David Umahi, the minister of works and a former governor of Ebonyi State, led a delegation of ministry officials to testify.

The minister said in his opening remarks that N383.3 billion in capital was given to the Federal Ministry of Works following the merger, and that the former Federal Ministry of Works and Housing was allotted N534.4 billion for the 2023 fiscal year.

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He emphasized that the Federal Government had released a pitiful N184.16 billion out of the capital expenditure.

Senator Barinada Mpigi, the committee chairman, ordered Umahi to explain the budget performance of the 2023 fund appropriated to the ministry before requesting that of 2024, following statements made by members of the committee made up of MPs from both the lower and upper legislative chambers.

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Umahi responded by saying that the releases for 2023 were effectively used on completed roads and bridges.

“The money from the 2023 Budget Appropriation, which has been released to the Ministry thus far, has been used to pay for certain certified certificates for completed work on roads and bridges by highway, projects of Engineering Services, and Common Services departments,” he stated.

“Note that as of the end of November 2023, the ministry’s cumulative unpaid certificate for all inherited ongoing highway and bridge projects was N1,507,873,365,516.02 (one trillion, five hundred and seven billion, eight hundred and seventy-three million, three hundred and sixty-five thousand, five hundred and sixteen naira, and two kobo).”

The minister’s report to the commission, which did not reflect the cash granted to contractors, inflamed sentiment.

Senator Barinada Mpigi, the senatorial district representative for Rivers South-East, chair of the Senate Committee on Works, disclosed that his committee had visited a few sites related to road building and restoration and had firsthand knowledge of how contractors were cheating the federal government.

He informed the minister indifferently that several contractors had been paid different amounts to mobilize, and that they had vanished from the sites after receiving payment.

“I want the press to listen to me,” he declared. As of right now, the contractor in charge of Aba-Owerri Road through NNPC Depot Express in Abia State has mobilized, but he hasn’t completed any work. We prefer not to use his name in this context. They have successfully gathered N76 million.

“Setraco is in charge of road rehabilitation in Kebbi State. The corporation is currently off site and has collected approximately N400 million. The contractor in Ogun State has amassed more than N25 million, but they have since vanished from sight. Heartland Construction Limited is in charge of rehabilitating the Asaba-Agbor dual carriageway; the contractor is HMF Construction Limited. They received N50 million in payment and haven’t been seen since.

“The contractor for the Bida-Pategi bridge across the River Niger in Niger State has been paid N400 million, but he is not on site; Zeerock Habitation International Services Nigeria Limited, for the two-kilometer asphalt construction to the Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital Nnewi-Oraifite in Anambra State, has been paid over N97 million with no performance; as of right now, he has been paid over N445 million for the rehabilitation of the Bende road in Abia State, which connects Akwa Ibom. Defensive and Protective Concept Limited is the contractor; they have no performance history.

The North East, Nasarawa, and Niger are the three places where we have more of this. Maiduguri-Gongola Road is being repair in the northeast. Comet Nigeria Limited is the contractor. Over N3 billion was collected by the contractor. There isn’t a contractor present. That project has made physical progress of 0.88%.

He went on: “The Wuyashi-Kakuri-Yauri Road construction and rehabilitation project in Bauchi has a contract number of 7639, which has been mobilized with over N12 billion.” Among many others, the contractor is not present at the location.

Mpigi committed to organizing a roundtable session with the ministry authorities and the impacted contractors.

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