The federal government has commenced a compilation for the prosecution of about 30 contractors handling the East-West road project.
Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Usani Uguru Usani, who disclosed this yesterday after the weekly FEC meeting, noted that the East-West road was designed to fail by previous administrations.
He was responding to a question on why N16 billion was approved for the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) headquarters building when the fund would have gone a long way to complete the East-West road project.
He told State House correspondents that the present administration is doing everything possible to put the East-West road project back on track.
The minister had announced that FEC had given approval for his ministry to spend a whopping N16 billion for the construction of NNDC headquarters building in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
On the rationale of spending N16 billion on NDDC headquarters while the east west road was yet to be completed more than 10 years after construction began, Usani said, “Some times when questions or concerns come from the public, you provoke our thoughts to get back to our sense of history.
“The East-West road is a project that has been messed up from inception, naturally designed to fail by all the agreements and designed concepts that we have seen. And here we are making sure that we put things in order so that we can see the terminal point of that project.
“The project started more than a decade ago and in 24 months we have made the progress we have made on that project, correcting even the construction deficits in the area. Then I think you should be able to appreciate what we are doing.
“When you talk of N16 billion as if it is so relevant in completing the East West road, I wish to tell you that the outstanding certificate on the East-west road amount to N30 billion. So if we put N16 billion there, in fact one and the other are not substitutes. Two of them are essential infrastructure projects that must go on. So, it doesn’t mean that if we put that money on the east west road then it satisfies the needs of housing the NDDC.
“The Niger Delta region has a prime position in our preference to develop the area and so there are no substitutes. Even if we are not going to do the NDDC headquarters it doesn’t mean we will complete the East West road. They are all important and I want you to get that into your mind.
On how much had been spent on the road so far, the Minister said, “We have spent N300 billion on the East-west road and yet the project has not made much progress.
“I’m doing a review of the entire contract of the East-west road because without that nothing will ever happen on that road talk less of completion. If you have spent N300 billion and you are where you are then the design, negotiations, contract everything is wrong.
“You designed a project of that nature and give it a lifespan of seven years and then no designs in some sectors and yet you are attributing cost to it. So, by what means did you have the elements of costing. These are verifiable facts at any time”.
He noted that his ministry was already making a compilation for the possible prosecution of the contractors, about 30 of them.
His words: “Right now I have gotten some of these contracts and I’m sending them to the EFCC, not just for the East-west road. I have got a minimum of 30 contractors that I am sending to EFCC. On the East-west road I have taken a private consultants to review the whole cost. So, some contractors will obviously refund money for which the present cost will be discounted.
“So, when you see contractors ganging up and publishing things against me, you should know the foundation. But as far as I am here I will do something that I feel is right.”