Why We’re Not Awarding New Contracts – Works Minister

The Minister of Works, Sen. David Umahi has said that the country has a lot of ongoing projects, some of which have been there for the past twenty years.

Umahi, who disclosed this on Monday, September 4, 2023, at a press briefing in Abuja said, many ongoing road projects were getting bad before the contractors even finished the work.

He lamented that this would not have been so if the concrete had been used instead of asphalt in the construction of the road as it was cheaper and more durable. He however clarified that he was not asking
those presently using asphalt to stop.

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“We do not necessarily have major projects to award. We have quite a lot of ongoing projects, some have been there for the past 20 years, which shouldn’t be. A lot of our projects that are still ongoing roads constructed and ongoing gets bad before the contractors even finish work”, he said.

Speaking further, the Minister queried contractors who hid under the guise of overloading to do shoddy jobs saying they should have factored in the unforeseen and not use it as an excuse.

Defending his love for concrete roads, the former Ebonyi State Governor stated that Asphalt road design had a shelf life of 30 years while concrete roads when properly done would last for 50 years. He further hinted that the road from Makurdi to Enugu would be changed to concrete.

Speaking further on his decision not to award new contracts, he said, “we have so many jobs that are ongoing but are not going well, due to our budgeting system. I am appealing to the National Assembly to return the 650 billion naira meant for projects through the 2023 supplementary budget”.

He said, Nigeria’s budgetary allocation design was discouraging contractors from the timely completion of federal road projects.

Engr. Umahi said, the release of the funds to contractors on an annual basis made road projects linger as in most cases the contractors accessed little from funds to purchase the raw materials.

He stated that the delay further gave rise to contract variation as inflation affected the original amount agreed for the project.

“When you give a contractor N150 million a year for an N600 million road project, he will pocket it while mobilising to the site without doing anything on ground.

“When confronted, he will say he is yet to get the material he requested for outside the country as the money was not enough,” he said.

He noted that if the National Assembly releases the N650 billion earlier mentioned, many of the projects would be completed.

The Minister advised that members of the National Assembly who were representatives of different Senatorial districts should meet with their state governors and determine priority projects that could be completed in time.

He added that the ministry would review the operations of the Federal Road Management Agency (FERMA) to ensure that any intervention in states would be done with the input of the state government.

According to him, this would determine the priority areas of the state governments.

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