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Senate summons FCT minister, J’Berger over airport contract

Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Bala Mohammed

The Senate Committee on Federal Capital Territory, on Thursday,  summoned the FCT minister, Senator Bala Mohammed, and Messrs Julius Berger Plc over the state of the multi-billion naira Abuja Airport dual-carriageway.

Both parties are expected to appear before the committee immediately after the chamber resumes from the Easter break.

Chairman of the committee, Senator Smart Adeyemi, stated this during a tour of the site in company with other members.

He expressed concern that in spite of the huge contract sum, the drainages were left open, thereby causing fatal accidents on a daily basis.

The contract, categorised into lots I and II, was awarded at the costs of N49bn and N59.2bn, respectively, in 2009.

While Lot I would be delivered in December 2014, Lot II, which according to the Director, Engineering, FCT Administration, Abu Alfa, an engineer, is 99.5 percent completed and would be delivered this month.

Speaking on the open drainages, Alfa said the construction was based on 1991 drawing.

However, Adeyemi noted that though the quality of work on the road was commendable, the contractor must device means of closing the drainages.

He said the interface between the committee and other stakeholders on the road contact would serve to fashion a way forward.

He added that since the contract sum was huge and the contractors made use of free raw materials, they should bear the extra cost of closing the drainage as part of their social corporate responsibilities.

He said, “There is no city in the world where drainages are left opened; even in many states where you have projects, you are not doing open culverts. So, why in the FCT? This constitutes hazard; it is a death trap and we must sit down and talk on the likely solution.

“The total cost of construction is high.  Yet, you extracted granite stone free. You must do something about it. If not, we will use our powers to compel you to do something.  It is very uncivilised.

“If this is the road design given to you, as you said it is 1991 drawing, it is obsolete and must be upgraded.

“I am not condemning the job: It is not bad. They have done a good job, except for the open drainage. The summons will be around the first week of May. Whatever is to be done on the road must be done before completion of project. If not, we will withhold your payment.

“Laterite, granite and water were obtained free. You have not answered our query on these raw materials you took free. If you didn’t pay for granite here, then, you should be able to do so etching about these open culverts.

“We had our reservations about the cost but it is now history,” Adeyemi said.

Also speaking, Senator Nurudeen Abatemi-Usman, said that there was a lot of appreciation of the work done but noted that there was also a lot of room for improvement.

He said the relevant people who have authority over the design would be met to see what can be done on behalf of the people of the nation.

He said, “Something needs to be done, and urgently too.”

Meanwhile, the senate has commenced the consideration of the report of the Joint Committee on the Federal Capital Territory and Finance on a Bill for an Act to establish the FCT Internal Revenue Board.

The Bill seeks, among other functions, to set up the FCT Internal Revenue Board for the collection and administration of revenue generated within Abuja.

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