House Decries Slow Pace of Abuja-Kano, Lagos-Ibadan Road Projects

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Adedayo Akinwale ín Abuja

House of Representatives has expressed its displeasure over the slow pace on the Abuja-Kano and Lagos-Ibadan highways.

The N155 billion contract for the reconstruction of Abuja-Kaduna road awarded to the construction giant, Julius Berger Nigeria Plc, was scheduled to be completed within a period of 36 months.

But 18 months gone by, the level of work done by the construction company, especially on the Abuja-Kaduna Highway did not commensurate with the money already paid for the project by the federal government.

Against this background, the House Committee on Works has demanded a monthly progress report on Abuja-Zaria-Kano road from the ministry of works and housing.

In a communiqué issued yesterday after the investigative hearing with the ministry and Julius Berger, the Chairman of the Committee, Abubakar Abubakar, said the construction company had by its actions and inactions created a situation leading to loss of lives and traffic gridlock along Abuja-Kano road despite being paid mobilisation fee of over N50 billion.

The chairman stated categorically that the House lacks confidence in the construction company’s capacity to concurrently handle the various contracts it was awarded across the country.

Abubakar said considering the snail-speed the project is progressing, he expressed fear that Julius Berger might not meet up with the 36-month schedule as stated in the contract agreement.

He stated: “We will not shy away from our responsibility in taking hard decisions no matter how difficult or painful the outcome might be. What is paramount to us right now is the wellbeing and security of Nigerians traveling on these roads and it is our constitutional duty to look out for Nigerians best interests.

“Today, we have invited both the ministry and Julius Berger to tell us what the problems are and what can be done
to immediately address
them.

“This meeting has been convened under the provisions of Section 88 and 89 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), which empower us to invite any organisation, agency or person to make clarification where necessary, with purpose to expose corruption, inefficiency or waste in the execution or administration of laws within our legislative competence and in the disbursement or administration of funds appropriated by us.”

The representative of Julius Berger, and the company’s Regional Technical Manager, Benjamin Bott, assured that the project would be completed within the time frame.

He regretted the loss of lives and inconveniences caused people using the Abuja-Kano as well as the Lagos-Ibadan highways.

Bott informed the committee that about 60 kilometres of completed section of the road would be opened for use in the next two months, while work on other sections are going on.