Senator Bala Mohammed
The just concluded National Good Governance Project tour clearly shows the preference of the Minister of Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Senator Bala Mohammed of sustaining people-oriented projects initiated by his predecessors. This disposition may however be hampered by the tardy acts of contractors. Writes Senator Iroegbu
The Federal Capital Territory (FCT) has always been a centre of the cynosure in Nigeria. It is the seat of the government at the centre and its serene environment offers a suitable place for sightseeing. Thus, successive administrator of the FCTC has tried very hard to keep the tradition of a good city. The FCT Administration under Senator Bala Mohammed may not be different afterward as it continued the pathway of building on its predecessor’s legacy, most importantly continuing projects that are left behind by those before him.
Last month, the FCT embarked on Federal Government sanctioned National Good Governance Tour (NGGT) to ascertain the state of some of the ongoing projects in the nation’s capital.
The four-day assessment tour exposed some of the crucial projects of the FCTA to the scrutinizing members of the public, including journalists and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs).
While several people had mixed feelings about the projects, ranging from satisfaction to disappointment, hope to doubt; excellence to average, there is however a recurring decimal about the project that generated talking points amongst the CSOs and Journalists who participated in the inspection tour of the projects, which is that the projects were inherited from the previous administrations.
During the tour guided by the FCT Minister, Senator Bala Mohammed and her colleague, the Minister of State for the FCT Chief Olajumoke Akinjide, most projects observed were initiated by the former FCT minister, except for few new projects by the current administration.
During the inspection, the Minister of National Planning, Mr. Shamshudeen Usman, stated that no government or country can progress with the habit of abandoned projects.
“This shows that this is a government of continuity. We believe in continuity because this project, which was started under the (Alhaji Umaru Musa) Yar’Adua administration, still continues. It is still the same government and administration,” he said.
Nevertheless, the jury of CSOs and journalists who were on the tour have a different view of government of continuity. There are fears that Senator Mohammed-led administration may find it hard to get the evasive contractors to work on some of the abandoned projects inspected.
For example, some of the works inspected were said to have remained on the same level for over a year despite the fact that agreed money for most of the projects have been revised upwards with payments made.
Mohammed acknowledged this, when he reminded the contractors handling the construction of Tanks 1&6 and Associated Trunk main project that they are behind schedule having assured him earlier that the project will be completed before the end of the year.
The contractor, Sarplast (WA) Ltd, however assured that it will finish half of the job, which entails the construction of two 40,000 litres capacity reinforced concrete tanks and laying of 58 kilometers of pipes to connect the tanks with the Lower Usuma Dam water Treatment Plant by December 31.
The company explained that Tank 1 has attained 95 percent completion while the construction of Tank 6 has commenced. It further assured the Bala Mohammed led Good Governance Tour Team that the project, which was originally awarded for N11.8 billion in 2006 and now revised up to N22.9 billion would be completed by December next year to provide additional 80 million litres of water for the FCT residents.
Similarly, the construction of the Lower Usuma Dam Water Treatment Plant, which as at September last year has reached 95 per cent completion stage is still said to be between 95-96 per cent complete, a year after its scheduled completion.
The project was awarded to Biwater Nigeria Limited (BNL) in 2005 at N14.3 billion and is now revised up to N18.1 billion expected to pump 20 million litres of water into the FCT per hour with the sources of water coming from the Gurara Dam and Lower Usuma Dam will supply 30 million litres of water per hour to FCT, especially the mass housing units for industrial and human consumption.
The same scenario was re-enacted when Mohammed expressed disappointment at the level of work at Goodluck Jonathan District, in Maitama extension. The Minister who could not hide his displeasure on the slow pace of construction work going on at the district said that there has not been meaningful progress made in project delivery since the last time he visited the site.
He noted that the N23 billion projects that were awarded in 2011 for infrastructural provisions to make the district accessible to allotees had only recorded 20 per cent completion.
Other projects that was inspected and also suffering from the delay syndrome tactics employed by the contractors with the connivance of some administrative officials include $823.54 million Abuja Light Rail Project that has its completion date shifted for 2010 to 2013 and 2015 in delivery phases.
Other projects visited include Abuja -Airport expressway costs at N59.2 billion with the Lot II nearly completed and already opened to commuters, while Lot I at about 72 peercent completion stage will be delivered by 2013.
In addition, the NGGT Team also assessed the Provision of Engineering Infrastructure for Kubwa Satellite Town (District 4 and 5) awarded in 2007 at the sum of over N42 billion and now at 46 percent completion stage. The ongoing development projects at District 1 of Abuja Northwest District were also assessed by the team.