The Senate Committee on the Niger Delta has advised the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, to encourage contractors who are doing well in the Niger Delta region.
The Chairman of the Committee, Senator Peter Nwaoboshi, said that projects where contractors have shown capacity to deliver on specified standards should be properly funded. He spoke while inspecting NDDC projects in Akwa Ibom State on Friday.
Senator Nwaoboshi, who led the inspection team that included the NDDC Acting Managing Director, Mrs. Ibim Semenitari and directors, said the contractor working on the second phase of the Iko-Atabrikang-Opolom-IwuoAchang Road in Ibeno Local Government Area, had shown commitment worthy of emulation by others.
He said further: “I am very impressed that an indigenous contractor could execute this kind of road project in a swampy terrain. We need to encourage him so as to give hope to others like him. We will certainly capture it in the NDDC 2016 budget. This is one project that we will highlight in our report to the Senate.”
Senator Nwaoboshi commended the NDDC for recognising the importance of Ibeno LGA and Eket as major contributors to the oil wealth of the nation, noting that the oil-bearing communities deserved special attention.
The NDDC Chief Executive Officer, Mrs. Semenitari, agreed with the Senators that the extension of the 6.87-kilometre Iko-Atabrikang-Opolom-IwuoAchang Road should be properly funded. She said that at the time the phase 2 was flagged off on October 2, 2015, the NDDC had introduced a policy of not paying mobilization fees to contractors. “This policy was introduced because the NDDC wanted its contractors to show their capacity and earn milestones before being paid,” the Ag. MD explained.
Briefing the Senators at the project site, Engr. Nnanna Anwara, the Project Manager for the contractor, said that the 3-kilometre road with a 6-span bridge was being built on a swampy land that required the removal of unsuitable materials several metres deep. He noted that the challenges were enormous as both the difficult terrain and tidal movements affect the progress of work on the project. “We have had to device ways of working in-between low and high tides. Sometimes, we start work as early as 4 am to take advantage of the low tide,” he said.
Other projects inspected by the Senators included the ultra-modern 522 bed-space University of Uyo Teaching Hospital hostel in Uyo Local Government Area, as well as the asphalted access road to the hostel. The two projects were commissioned last year by the Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Mr. Udom Emmanuel.
At the 2-kilometre Ediene-Abak Road the Senators expressed displeasure with the poor performance of the contractor who was said to have been paid N48 million with very little work to show for it.