BY OUR CORRESPONDENT
The House of Representatives Ad Hoc Committee investigating the alleged slow pace of Ijebu-Igbo Ibadan Road project and the unfolding revelation about the inflation of the contract sum from N9.8 billion to N54 billion on Thursday visited the project site.
The lawmakers led by the ad hoc committee chairman, Hon. Kwamoti Bitrus Laori were on the project site for assessment.
Recall that on 7th September, 2023 , during an Investigative hearing by the House of Representatives probe panel, there was an allegation that a House of Representatives Member, representing Oluyole Federal Constituency of Oyo State. Hon. Tolulope Akande Sadipe connived with some officials of Federal Ministry of Works to re-award an ongoing project to another contractor from its original contract sum of N9.8 billion to N54 billion.
The management of DC Engineering Ltd handling the project then said despite its request for upward review of the project to at least N14 billion, the officials of the Ministry of Works ignored their request but went ahead to re-award the contact to another company, Areatech Construction Ltd at N54 billion.
Hon. Sadipe denied the allegation. However, the Director, Highways, South West, Federal Ministry of Works, Engr. Adedamola Kuti told the committee that they had terminated the contract of DC Engineering Ltd since September 2022 and re-awarded it to two other companies. Kuti was however silent on why the 41km road contract was reviewed from N9.8 billion to N54. billion.
During the hearing, it was also revealed that the project was awarded in 2018 and expected to be completed in 2020 but it took the Federal Ministry of Works five years 2018 to 2023 before paying 15% mobilization fees of N1.3 billion to DC Engineering Ltd, an action many stakeholders attributed to the slow pace of the project.
The Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) which earlier gave Certificate of No Objection, to Areatech Construction Ltd had since cancelled it as the original contractor is still on site. BPP based its action on the ground that no project shall be re-awarded to another company without the termination of the initial contact.
However, a letter from BPP dated May 10, 2023 and addressed to the Solicitor of DC Engineering Ltd said certificate of no objection issued to Areatech Construction Ltd has been cancelled.
During the Thursday visit of the lawmakers to the Ijebu-Igbo Ibadan Road project site, Oyo State, the chairman of the committee, kwamoti Bitrus Laori assured the community leaders/members and officials of the DC Engineering Ltd that they were on the tour of the project site for an assessment and to ensure everything is settled amicably toward the completion of the project.
The lawmakers during the oversight visit, toured the entire areas the 41km road project covered. They include Iyana Shehu, Ile-Epo Lucas Station, Ile-Epo Inukan, Olunde Junction, Fatusi bridge, Arogo, Aiyegun Market, Lanfa Bridge among others.
Some officials of the Federal Ministry of Works as well as DC Engineering Ltd’s senior staff including Head of Logistics, Mr. Emmanuel, Site / Project Engineer,. Engr Isaac and several other workers were also present during the lawmakers’ visit to the site.
The DC Engineering’s road construction machines were also seen all over the places visited.
The representative of the Public Complaint Commission, Hon. Asuwaju Folawuyo Bello, (Commissioner Oyo State) was also available during the legislators visit on Thursday. Bello during the September 7, 2023 investigative hearing of this probe panel blamed the mess of the Nigerian Roads on the activities of the Ministry of Works officials. Bello who said they have received several complaints over the said project, expressed dismay on how a project that supposed to be completed within 24 months (two years) will take Federal Ministry of Works five years to pay only 15 percent of the contract sum.