Patrick Ugeh in Abuja and James Sowole in Akure
The Federal Government yesterday clarified the circumstances leading to the revocation of the 25-year concession given to Wale Babalakin’s Bi-Courtney Limited for the construction and maintenance of the 105-kilometre Lagos-Ibadan Expressway.
The clarification came as the Ondo State Government tuesday revealed its decision to terminate the contractual agreement between it and Homan Engineering Limited, a subsidiary of Bi-Courtney within the next two-weeks for its dismal performance in the handling of the 8.2 kilometer Fiwasaye-Oba-Ile-Airport Road.
Minister of Works, Mike Onelomemen, had announced the cancellation on Monday while speaking with journalists.
Some of the terms of the concession agreement allegedly breached by Bi-Courtney, included; failure to submit a duly completed performance bond as contained in the agreement; failure to submit copies of the construction contract as required by in the agreement; and failure to submit copies of the Financial Agreement as provided in the agreement.
Other breaches identified by Ikpasaja were failure to submit copies of the Operations and Maintenance (O&M) contract as stipulated in the agreement; failure to carry out construction work despite access to the site since September 2009; and abandonment of the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the site, among others.
Meanwhile, investigations showed that work is ongoing on the Abuja-Lokoja Expressway being constructed by the multinational, RCC, and indigenous firm, Dantata and Sowoe.
It is one of the roads that has remained uncompleted for several years, leaving most Nigerians wondering why the contract was not revoked and awarded to more competent construction companies.
One of the reasons given by government was unavailability of adequate funds.
However, some rushed work, including the provision of a bridge at the Gwagwalada axis, was done late last year to ease traffic during the Christmas season.
More permanent surfacing with asphalt has now been carried out on that stretch of the road and work is currently ongoing on other parts of the highway, THISDAY learnt.
The decision of the Ondo State government was revealed by the Commissioner for Works, Mr. Gboye Adegbenro, who led senior officials of his ministry and journalists on inspection tour of some road projects in the state.
According to the commissioner, Homan Engineering Limited had “performed grossly below expectation.”
The development came three months after the firm lost a major road contract it was handling for the state government in Ondo town and barely 24 hours after its sister firm lost its multi-billion Lagos-Ibadan Expressway contract.
Adegbenro said the state government decided to sack the firm from the Ondo Township road dualisation project when it was glaring that it had no capacity to deliver.
The commissioner explained that the 8.2 kilometre Akure-Oba-Ile-Airport Road contract value was initially N3.6 billion before it was reviewed upward to N4.8 billion sometimes in January 2011 following the partial removal of oil subsidy.
He wondered why Homan Engineering had not delivered the project when it was obvious that they had no impediment of fund, relocation of structures or facilities and payment of compensation.
Attempts by the Site Engineer, Mr. Adebanjo Famomi, to convince the commissioner that his firm would complete the project within six months fell on deaf ears.
“There is no miracle that you can perform in another six months. You have three years and all you have not even achieved a kilometre out of the over eight kilometre road”
Adegbenro while speaking with journalists expressed serious disappointment in the contractors over their handling of the road project.
“We have given them a two-week ultimatum. If they failed to move and mobilise personnel and materials to the site, they should consider the contract as being terminated.
“We are not talking of just mere equipment, I mean heavy equipment. The ministry of works record has it that the contract was awarded about three years ago and it had survived three dry seasons yet the best the company could achieve is 26 per cent
“It is glaring that they are not ready and prepared for the project. I learnt the company is having management crisis but we cannot allow them to use that to suffer the people of the state and hold the government to ransom,” Adegbenro stated.
Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the South-west has commended the Federal Government for terminating the concession agreement with Bi-Courtney Limited and awarding the road to reputable construction companies like Julius Berger and RCC.
The party, which urged the government to see to the early completion of the road, said; the step taken by the president was a further demonstration of his commitment to the transformation of the country.
In a release issued today by its Zonal Publicity Secretary, Hon. Kayode Babade, the PDP noted that even though the idea of concessioning the road to Bi-Courtney was noble, the failure of the concessionaire to commence work on the road over three years after the concession agreement was signed made its termination necessary.
The statement read; “We received with joy the news of the Federal Government’s termination of the Bi-Courtney’s Lagos-Ibadan road contract and award of the road construction to Julius Berger and R. C. C Nigeria Limited.
“The decision is highly commendable and we commend President Goodluck Jonathan for taking such a bold and patriotic decision.
“Now that the road has been awarded to two notable construction firms, it is our expectation that the job will be completed very soon. This is taking into consideration the importance of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway to Nigerians, especially our people in the South-West.
“Also, we wish to urge Mr. President see to it that the railway system is totally resuscitated so as to reduce the pressure on our roads, thereby making them durable.
“Most importantly, we thank Mr President for once again, listening to the voice of our people concerning the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway and like Oliver Twist, we urge him to give more priority to the South-West in terms of developmental projects.”