. Decries high cost of roads on Nâ€™Delta terrain
The Executive Director in charge of Projects at the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Mr. Ajenakevwe Samuel Adjogbe has said that the commission has cancelled 647 projects valued at N190 billion as a result of their zero performance.
Adjogbe also told THISDAY in an exclusive interview that the cost of road construction in the part of the Niger Delta region that constitutes the Agbada formation could be double the amount used in road construction in the part of Niger Delta that constitutes the Benin formation due to the difficult terrain.
He stated that on assumption of office about a year ago, the new board and management of NDDC had set up a committee he chaired, which recommended that 647 projects be cancelled to remove expected liability of N190 billion from the commissionâ€™s balance sheet.
â€œWe looked at the portfolio of projects and set out criteria for filtration. We needed to filter jobs and classify them. Jobs that have zero performance since they were awarded were all identified. You awarded a project to someone since 2002 or 2005 and from that time till now, the person has not done anything. In the contract agreement the person signed with the commission, the contract is valid for a period of time, usually two years. What it means is that if after that period and you have not done anything, the contract is deemed to have expired and the project is no more,â€ he explained.
He said his committee had recommended that those projects be cancelled and the board approved the recommendation and cancelled them.
â€œThose projects are now out of the balance sheet and the next phase we are working on is that we also need to know the factors stalling any project that is between the range of 0.1 and 5 per cent performance. Some of the needs of some areas may have changed and some people come back to you with cost escalations. So, we look at it to know if it is something that we want to sustain.
Is this project still the current need of the area that needed the project initially? Has anything changed? If the answer is yes, yes, then we have to do something differently. We have gotten our report on this and we have presented it to the management. In our next board meeting, we will also present it for debate and necessary consideration for action,â€ he added.
Adjogbe decried the high cost of road construction in the Niger Delta, which he blamed on the difficult terrain of the Mangrove forest that constitutes the Agbada formation in geological parlance.
â€œNiger Delta region is made up of two formations â€“ the Agbada formation and Benin formation. The Agbada formation constitutes the part we call the Mangrove forest, while the Benin formation is Imo and Edo States, as well as the upland part of Ondo State. The job we execute in the Mangrove area is more costly because the terrain is really rough. It is a tough terrain to operate in terms of the configuration. Now, it is far more costly to construct one kilometre of road in the Mangrove than in other parts of the region. So, the cost of executing projects in some parts of this region is very high. For instance, one kilometre of road in Escravos will cost double the amount you will use to construct one kilometer of road in Benin City. So, that is a major challenge,â€ he explained.