Extra N113bn Needed To Complete East/West Road, Says Orubebe
MINISTER OF NIGER DELTA, ELDER GODSDAY ORUBEBE n BEVERLY HILLS, CA, January 23, (THEWILL) - The Minister of Niger Delta, Elder Godsday Orubebe, told Senators on Thursday that an additional sum of N113 billion is required to complete the 338-kilometre East West Road.
He made the disclosure while fielding questions from members of the Senate Ad-Hoc Committee on Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme (SURE-P).
Orubebe however assured that if the fund is made available, the project, which is already at 66.
6 per cent completion stage would be delivered by the end of the year.
The East-West road contract was awarded in 2006 at the initial cost of N197bn.
It was later reviewed upward to the tune of N349.
8bn in 2009.
The Minister also told the Committee chaired by Deputy Leader of the Senate, Senator Abdul Ningi, that due to the pressure from the people of the region, the contract was awarded without drawing and detailed designs.
"The contract was only eight to 10 per cent executed until 2010 when designs were done and financial plans drawn.
Today, the work has gone up to 66.
6 per cent and it would hopefully be completed by December this year," he said.
He also told the Committee that out of the total sum, N236.
1bn has been paid to the contractors, N51.
7bn of which was paid by SURE-P.
According to him, the sum of N5billion is yet to be expended in the 2013 appropriation.
Nonetheless, Orubebe defended the upward review of the contract sum.
He explained that the 42 bridges and 1,040 culverts were discovered at a later date, when proper designs were carried out.
He however, solicited for more assistance from SURE-P on the premise that the budgetary allocation alone might delay completion of the project.
Chairman of the Committee, Senator Ningi lamented the delay in completing the project.
He described the contract, which has lingered for over nine years as a tragedy.
Consequently, he warned that future upward review of the contract sum would not be tolerated by the Senate.
"The road is a serious tragedy.
For more than nine years, it has remained dormant in spite of all the interventions.
My concern is that when you look at this project, the average amount of money to service it per square metre is N1billion.
Yet, we are saddled with the problem of moving forward.
"Will you say that the East West Road would be completed in 2014 and that there will be no appropriation in 2015? That revision has come to an end and that there would not be any revision by contractors again?, " he asked.
On why a contract of that magnitude would be awarded without designs, Orubebe explained that baseline survey, which is acceptable in construction, was adopted for a quick take-off of the contract.
He noted that the step was taken in good faith by former President Olusegun Obasanjo as part of the measures to placate the restive Niger Delta people .
BY EMMA UCHE, ABUJA