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Contractors fault Delta government over unpaid debts from executed projects


David Edevbie

Contractors in Delta State have faulted the figures given by the state government, as the outstanding debts owed them.The state Commissioner for Finance, Mr. David Edevbie, had disclosed at a news conference last week that the contractors were owed about N100billion.

Edevbie said the debt was accumulated due to alleged negligence, adding that the method of payment was also discouraging. The commissioner said: “I am not happy with the payment system. The payment method is disheartening, hence the accumulated debts and I have not been happy about the unnecessary delay.”

But the contractors, under the aegis of “Unity Contractors” described the alleged N100 billion unpaid debt as untrue.According to them, the state government had since 2007 failed to pay the contractors a total of N450 billion for the projects they executed in the state.

One of the contractors who spoke yesterday in Asaba, Mr. Afam Joseph, alleged that successive administrations from 2007 till date had made no payment on most of the executed projects.

“We have been carrying files from one office to another after completing the jobs to specification. Yet, the state government has refused to pay by shifting the blame to us. We shall soon embark on a protest to press home our demand or disrupt ongoing projects until the debts are paid,” he said.
According to him, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa had recently blamed the high debt profile on the paucity of funds and the attack on oil facilities by militant groups in the Niger Delta region

He said Okowa also acknowledged that on assumption of office, he was confronted by irregularities in the payment of contractors and others categories of people. 
The contractors accused officials of the state ministries of bribe-taking, adding that infrastructure development might be crippled in the state if the situation was not addressed.
But the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Charles Aniagwu, dispelled the allegation of insensitivity on the part of the government, adding that Okowa was committed to the development of the state.
Meanwhile, a Federal High Court in Asaba, presided over by Justice T. B. Adegoke, has struck out two suits by an anti-corruption integrity forum against the accountant general and the tender’s board of the state.

The group said it was seeking information, in line with the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act 2011, to compel them to disclose the contracts awarded by the state ministry of works.
The plaintiff also sought an order directing the attorney general to prosecute them for failing to release the requested information.But the court struck out the case on the ground that the plaintiff could not properly establish his case.

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David Edevbie
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