Umahi: Tinubu Inherited 2,600 Road Projects Valued at N15tn on May 29

•Says projects worth N260bn 80% completed 

•Apologises to journalists for shunning them

Emmanuel Addeh in Abuja

The Minister of Works, David Umahi, yesterday disclosed that President Bola Tinubu inherited 2,600 ongoing road projects nationwide valued at N15 trillion when he took over the reins of power on May 29 last year.

Speaking during a meeting with contractors in Abuja, the minister stressed that of the N15 trillion, only N2 trillion had been certified and paid at the time, explaining that at the moment N13 trillion worth of road projects were scattered all over the country.

The minister who apologised to journalists for shunning them after inviting them for an event in his office weeks ago, said he was rushing to catch a flight and never meant it as a slight.

The minister told the contractors that Variation of Projects (VoP) will only be carried out on selected items which go into the construction of roads, explaining that it will no longer be wholesale.

“The essence of this meeting is to address our contractors based on the situation of the country and the situation of the ministry and the paucity of funds facing a lot of multiple projects.

“ First, I want to say that when we came on board, May 29, Mr. President inherited a total of 2,600 projects, totalling over N15 trillion. And at that time, those projects were ongoing. And only about N2 trillion were  certified and paid. And so, we now have an ongoing projects of over N13 trillion,” he stated.

Because of the huge expenditure needed to revamp the roads, he stated that while some of the projects were being carried out through budgetary provisions, the federal government was collaborating with the private sector, especially in the area of  tax credits.

“And then, we made serious reflection after the fuel subsidy was removed and then the challenges of the naira. And that led me to say that all projects must be looked into.

“But this variation of price covered about four or five items like fuel, diesel, bitumen, cement. And so, the ministry looked at it realistically and we felt that there is no way we ask a contractor to use the same price of petrol as at when the job was awarded. Some of the jobs had lasted some 18 years, some 11 years,” he added.

He stated that  President Bola Tinubu earlier accepted his plea to increase the ministry’s envelope in 2024 budget provision to keep ongoing projects alive, which he approved.

“And that’s why you see most of our projects are ongoing in the budget, but with a very poor allocation, like N50 million, N100 million. But we have to do that, believing that there could be other ways that we can fund these projects, including public private partnerships,” he added.

He disclosed that constituency projects of the National Assembly, currently constitute over 90 per cent of the new projects, explaining that in the 2024 budgetary allocation, there are less than 10 projects that have over N2 billion allocation.

Umahi stated that the ministry of works had been working round the clock because it inherited a lot of tasks, adding that 330 projects that Mr. President approved on an emergency basis, with a total of over N260 billion were already 80 per cent completed.

He directed the permanent secretary to instruct all the regional directors to begin the commissioning of projects throughout the nation, noting that the president will continue from where they stop in July.

The minister added that Tinubu had approved review of the projects, stressing that the federal government unit prices will be offered to the contractors and not the other way round.

“We offer to them. And we will offer based on the approvals we have got on similar projects. And so, one thing that is our policy is that no contractor engaged in the ministry of works will be treated differently.

“Whether you are an indigenous contractor or you are a foreign contractor, so far you can pour cement to the right place and place it rightly, you are a good contractor. We will take it as proof,” he explained.

He accused some contractors of deploying delay tactics to remain on site while the people keep suffering, explaining that when the deadline of a project expires, it is the right of government not to renew it.

He stressed that the current administration has the political will to terminate contracts of contactors that will continue to play games, including many contractors that do not have equipment.

“You can demand for a contract termination by mutual agreement, if we don’t have the money to fund the project, and then we have no concrete idea of when we’ll get money to fund it, instead of you to stay on site and be counting in interest for us.

“You are not working, and the project is not moving, and people are dying. You should activate a clause that we’ve established in our contract,” he said.

He further stated that the Lagos-Calabar road had not been stopped as being insinuated, saying that on the Sokoto Badagry, the president had given the marching order to start the design.

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