The Senate Committee on Niger Delta has warned contractors handling some flagship projects of the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs to desist from the acts capable of aggravating the challenges confronting the Niger Delta Region and Nigeria.
Members of the committee who were on oversight visit to Delta and Rivers States in the company of the Honourable Minister of State for Niger Delta Affairs, Prof. Claudius Omoleye Daramola and other Ministry's officials over the weekend to assess the progress of some of the Ministry's projects in the area, expressed displeasure over what they called 'The slow pace of work' on the various sites visited.
In his remarks, Senator Tayo Alasoadura said: "We should be serious about handling government funds because the money is our own, if we don't do the projects well, we will continue to service them, rather than using the funds for other projects."
Alasoadura suggested a 10-year guarantee period to be billed into all future projects in the country to ensure that contractors deliver quality jobs to Nigerians. He added that the guarantee period will help the country to save a lot of fund being wasted on servicing projects that were poorly executed by contractors.
The Senator asked why the Skills Acquisition Centre under construction at Tuomo town in Burutu Local Government Area of Delta State, awarded since 2010 and had gulped over Two Billion Naira has not been completed?
He added that the Ministry and the contractors handling the project should work out strategies for early completion of the Skills Acquisition Centres and other projects in the region.
Commenting on the slow pace of work on all the Skill Acquisition Centres across the States in the Niger Delta Region with no completion dates in sight, Senator Alasoadura said: "We Nigerians plan our projects to fail. Technocrats should advise politicians appropriately to desist from putting many projects together at the same time without completion."
Aligning with the position of the Senate Committee, the Honourable Minister of State for Niger Delta Affairs, Prof. Claudius Omoleye Daramola who expressed displeasure over the slow pace of work and shoddy jobs noticeable in some of the sites visited, disclosed that contractors who were not on sites during the oversight visit had been summoned to the Ministry to explain the reasons for the shoddy jobs carried out on some of the sites visited, before further payments to them.
"Introduction of 10 years guarantee for projects will put contractors on their toes." The Minister added.
Meanwhile, the contractor handling Lot 1 of the Skills Acquisition Centre at Tuomo community in Delta State, Mr Claudius Eneghes of Le'Clarence Nigeria Limited said the project was hampered by non-release of fund since 2014, until 2017 when funds were released that his company resumed work. He promised his organisation's commitment to completing its own part of the project as it gets more funds from government.
The Skill Acquisition Centre occupying about 23.62 Hectares of land, when completed, shall produce over 4,000 skilled youths in underwater welding, small machine tools fabrication for agriculture, oil and gas machines, as well as e-marketimg and Information Communication Technology.
The project was awarded to three contractors as Lots 1,2 and 3 respectively.
Lot 1 which has to do with the building works, was awarded at N2,011,667,974.40 with the payment of N1,163,997.02 and an outstanding of N847,670,307.38. It is at 65.3% completion according to the contractor.
Lot 2 was for Services. It was awarded at the sum of N521, 478,510.77, with the payment of N463,665,042.21, the outstanding payment is N57,813,468.56, this is at 75% completion level.
The Civil Works, that is the Lot 3, was awarded at N884,760,173.25 and as the payment of N739,136,221.09 had so far been made, the outstanding is N145,623,952.16. This aspect of the work is also at 65.41% completion.
Generally speaking, the total cost of the contract was N3,417,906,658.86, total payment till date is N2,366,978,930.32 with total outstanding of N1,051,107,728.10.
It would be recalled that out of the nine Skills Acquisitions Centres being built by the Ministry since inception, only the one in Bayelsa State has been completed and handed over to the Federal University, Otuoke in Ogbia Local Government Area of the state. Others are still at various stages of completion.
Other projects also visited by the team were: Construction of One Block of Six Classrooms in Eruemukohwarien, Ughelli North Local Government Area of Delta State, the completed Community Health Centre in Emede Kingdom, Isoko South Local Government Area of Delta State, the completed section I of the dual-carriageway East -West road from Warri to Kaiama, which is awaiting inauguration.
Section I of the East-West road project was awarded to SETRACO Nigeria Limited in July 2006 by the Federal Ministry of work, before tranfering it to Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs upon creation in 2009, at the cost of One Hundred and Twenty Billion, Eight Hundred and Ninety Nine Million, Four Hundred and Three Thousand, Four Hundred and Sixty One Naira, Ninety Nine Kobo (N120,899,403,461.99) with a total release of N120,242,762,572.64 till date.
In a related development, the Ministry under the current administration has taken measures against conspiracy on quality of construction materials, fittings and finishing works.