Minister of Information, Mr. Labaran Maku
By Ahamefula Ogbu
The Federal Executive Council (FEC) Wednesday outlawed award of contracts without complete design and laid out financing plan to ensure there were no more issues of abandoned projects in the country.
This came as the council also approved contracts for the construction of a bridge across Benue River at Oju/Loko-Oweto, and the purchase of anti-smuggling boats for the Nigerian Customs at a combined cost of N36, 388,910,405.94.
The two A30 Sea Princess Boats, which will help the Nigerian Customs combat smuggling and effectively patrol the waterways, was awarded to John Holt at the cost of N270 million while 30 other patrol boats, most of which are said to be unserviceable, would be repaired at the ship yards in the country to increase their sea-going patrols.
The bridge, said to be a major link between the North-central, South-east and South-south, will reduce travel time between Abuja and localities of between three to four hours, was awarded to Reynolds Construction Company (RCC) at the cost of N36, 118,910,405.94 with a completion period of 48 months.
Briefing State House Correspondents after the meeting, Minister of Information, Mr. Labaran Maku, flanked by the Minister of State for Finance, Yerima Lawal Ngama; and the Minister of Works, Mr. Mike Onolememen, said the required funding of the projects within the years of construction had been worked out such that the projects would be delivered within the life of the administration.
“The Finance Minister tabled a memo before the council to seek ratification of the President's approval for Direct Procurement on two A30 Sea Princess Boats with back-up spare parts and training of crew members for the Nigeria Customs Services (NCS).
“The Marine Unit of the Nigeria Customs Services (NCS) was established to complement other law enforcement agencies in checking various forms of smuggling along the Nigerian waterways and creeks. But over the years, the Marine Unit has not been adequately equipped, and almost half of the boats in its fleet are now completely grounded.
“In order to re-invigorate the Unit, Council ratified the President's approval for the Direct Procurement of two A30 Sea Princess Boats with back up spare parts and training of crew members, in favour of Messrs John Holt Plc., in the sum of N270,000,000.00 only, inclusive of all taxes and charges, with delivery period of six weeks”, Maku said.
On the said Oju/Loko-Oweto Bridge over River Benue to Link Loko in Nasarawa State and Oweto, Benue State, Maku further explained that “the contract was awarded to Messrs Reynolds at the sum of N36.118, 910,405.94 with 48 months completion period”.
He explained that when completed, the road would reduce the heavy traffic on the Abuja-Lokoja Road and also reduce the travel time between Enugu and Abuja by at least two hours.
Maku said the council received briefing from the chairman of the Presidential Projects Monitoring Committee, Mr. Ibrahim Bunu, which stated that the 200 dams across the country have the potentials of generating 3,600 megawatts of electricity as well as provide irrigation for 3.1 million hectares of land for agriculture but could not perform optimally due to design defects.
He said: “Most of the issues associated with damn projects across the country were discussed by the Committee. Let me state from the opening that Nigeria has about 200 dam projects, some of them have been completed, others at various levels of construction. These dams were designed for three purposes: to produce water for human consumption and agriculture, also for fisheries and to generate electricity for the country.
“From the report of the committee, these 200 damns together could generate 3,600 megawatts of electricity for the nation. Also, the 200 damns together have the capacity to irrigate 3.1million hectares of land for various purposes.
According to the report of the committee, unfortunately for our country, even in those damns that have been completed, the utility rates of those damns have not been encouraging.
“The committee took a look at all the on-going projects in the water resources ministry, with very salient observations which fall in line with previous observations which indicated that the projects that have been awarded did not have the kind of complete designs that would have expedited the construction of those damns.
“Generally, we all agreed in Council (with the report of the committee) and the President directed that there was a need for the Economic Management Team to take a look at the issues that were raised by the Bunu Committee particularly on the areas of what we should do subsequently to avoid the mistakes that have already been made in the past.
Essentially we agreed today that for any project to come to the Federal Executive Council in future, one, it must have detailed designs, and proper cost which will guide the FEC on the award. Secondly, there must be provision in all the budgetary years through which the project gestation period falls, to ensure that projects are no longer abandoned”, he explained.
Maku said the government had agreed to reinforce technical departments in ministries to enable them have the technical capacity to supervise contracts, while clauses in contract agreements would be designed to protect public interest as against contractors' interests, so that when contracts were awarded, they would be constructed in the interest of the country for developmental purposes.
Maku later explained to THISDAY that the boats for the Customs came under procurement because no ship building yard in the country had the capacity to build them but that the repairs which could be done locally would be so done.