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Reps probes N1.3tr Port Harcourt-Maiduguri railway line contract

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Railway


The House of Representatives, yesterday, began the probe of the N1.3 trillion Port Harcourt-Maiduguri contracts for the rehabilitation of sections of the eastern railway line.

At the inauguration of the ad hoc committee to investigate the N19.2 billion contract awarded to Eser Incorporated, lawmakers were stunned at how contracts were awarded without recourse to due process.

The company reportedly collected the amount from the Federal Government in 2011 for the rehabilitation of a 1.43-kilometer section of the railway line in 2011 with a delivery period of ten months. It however failed to deliver.

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Contracts were also awarded to two other companies, CGGC Global Projects Limited and Lingo Nigeria Limited. Documents available to the lawmakers showed that there were double contracts award to different companies by the Nigerian Railway Cooperation (NRC) even when they had not exited previous ones; hence the total amount ran into over a trillion.

Chairman of the committee, Hassan Nalaraba, who presided over the public hearing lamented: “The House is concerned that 10 years after the award of the contract for the rehabilitation of the eastern railway line, Mr. President performed a ceremony to flag a re-award of the contract to reconstruct the same eastern railway line, this time for about $3.2bn (that is, approximately about N1.3tr).

“It is worrisome that a contract that had a completion period of less than one year seems to be taking eternity. Whereas, there is evidence of huge sums of money being appropriated and released, little is being heard or seen of this gigantic project, even in the states where these projects span.”

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NRC’s Director of Operations, Niyi Alli, told the committee that in 2009 Eser was paid N19 billion for the 10-month duration of the contract while N24 billion was paid to CGGC for the same period, with Lingo also getting N23 billion for a contract delivery of 10 months.

The lawmakers were baffled that the NRC would still award contracts for the rehabilitation of narrow gauge lines instead of standard gauge, 100 years after they were laid. They demanded that old technology be discarded.

Following unsatisfactory answers from representatives of the companies in question, a member of the committee, Benjamin Mzondu, moved that all relevant documents like payments made and contract exit line documents be made available to the committee before its resumption in seven days for further hearing.

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