Edo in throes of abandoned, substandard NDDC projects
Like the other eight states that are beneficiaries of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Edo State has got its fair share of troubles from the commission, both in terms of abandoned and substandard projects.
The latter, perhaps, explains why Governor Godwin Obaseki, recently ordered contractors handling some NDDC road projects in the state capital to suspend work, owing to mounting concerns about project design and quality of work done.
Work has also since stopped on some strategic roads in the state, including the one, which leads from Uholor Junction, off Ekenwan Road, which is supposed to connect Airport Road, by Ogba Bridge. The road cuts across several villages and communities.
Recently, a report by a technical committee, which reviewed road projects executed by the commission in the state, indicted the agency for executing substandard jobs.In its verdict, the committee submitted that the roads were below required standards, and added that only a total of 101 roads out of the 248 roads awarded by the NDDC have been executed. It also said work was yet to commence on 86 road projects, while many of the roads, which contracts have already been awarded have been abandoned.
While submitting the report of the committee to Obaseki, chairman of the committee Erasmus Osahon, who pointed out that the commission has been awarding road projects in the state since 2004, expressed disappointment with the quality of work done, and recommended a review, prompt payment of contractors and re-training of engineers.
Osahon, who said such would help to reduce the rate of abandonment of road projects, recommended that the commission should liaise with the state Ministry of Works to avoid duplication of projects and double expenditure.
In expressing his disappointment with the quality of work, particularly road projects, Obaseki stressed that intervention institutions like the NDDC ought to ensure that only tested and trustworthy contractors were selected to handle road projects.
According to him, “NDDC cannot be an appellation for substandard work, so from now on, the quality of their projects should improve. We have to, from now on, be involved in their projects and in the selection of contractors to work in our state. We also want to understand why inferior materials are used for NDDC projects. From now on, we want to insist that the same quality of materials we use on our roads are the same NDDC contractors who operate in the state must use.
“We have problems with the designs of their roads as reported by the committee. How can we design roads in a rain forest to have very narrow drains and expect that those roads will last? That is why even from the design stage, we want to be involved. We will also like to interrogate all the contractors that have worked with us. So, we are imploring the NDDC to give us the required cooperation.”
Only a few months ago, a former commissioner with the commission, Matthew Iduorikenwmen, said several projects worth about N1trillion have been abandoned due to non-availability of funds for their completion.
He, however, debunked speculations that some projects executed by the commission deteriorated due to use of substandard materials, even as he called on the Federal Government to take steps to provide adequate funding to enable the NDDC meet up with its statutory responsibility of facilitating socio-economic development of oil-producing states.
Member representing the state on the board of the commission, Saturday Uwuilekhue, at a meeting with contractors and consultants handling projects in the state, complained of lack of cooperation by some host communities, saying the development was one of the major reasons why some of the projects were not executed as fast as they should.
He said every stakeholder, including contractors, consultants and host communities must collaborate to ensure timely execution of projects, stressing that some of the projects that were not progressing as fast as they should were stalled as a result of activities of communities who make unfair demands on the commission, either in form of unnecessary compensation, or request for the execution of some aspects of the contracts that are obviously beyond their capabilities,” he said.
He said before he assumed office, he never quite appreciated the efforts of the commission in achieving its mandate, “but having visited some of the project sites across the state, I have now realised that NDDC is doing so much to better the lives of the people. Those saying that the commission is not doing enough, make such assertions based on the information at their disposal. I therefore use this opportunity to call on anyone interested to take time to visit different projects of the commission before drawing conclusions,” he stated.
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