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FHA contractors protest N1.5b debt in Zuba project

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Contractors handling the Abuja mass housing project in Zuba are in dilemma over the inability of the Federal Housing Authority (FHA) to release funds for the project.

The authority owed 70 contractors the sum of N1.5 billion for the construction of over 700 housing units meant for the civil servants in the federal capital territory and its environs.

The contractors under the aegis of the Federal Housing Authority Contractors Association, carried placards last week to protest and drive home their demands for the payment of debts  to enable them complete the work, and handover to the Federal Government.

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The association chairman, Innocent Odika, explained that money for the mass housing projectwas released last year, but got stuck with the new management, which caused delay in the completion of the houses.

Odika added, “we have been owed for years, and five per cent was realeased to the contractors. That’s why we are asking for payment so that we can offset our debts to the workers, who are being owed for months.”

He further said that Minister of Works and Housing had visited the project and commended the level of construction as well as promised to make money available for the completion.

“At present, we cannot continue with work until FHA pays the contractors. Inflation has also caught up with the project and we have no option, than to stop activities at the sites and appeal to the government to come to our aid,” he said.

But in a statement, FHA Head of Public Affairs Unit, Kenneth Chigelu, explained that the delay in payment was due to  verification and audit exercise  being carried out by the management in compliance with global standards.

He added, “we are still in the process of concluding the exercise and physical inspection of the projects before vouchers are prepared for the payment. We will not pay the contractors without 100 per cent completion of the units.”

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