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S’East Governors wake from slumber, raise questions for FG on 2nd Niger Bridge

South East Governors’ Forum, in a new report on the performance of 2017 federal budget in the zone has alleged confusion in the way and manner the federal government is handing the endless construction of second Niger Bridge, Onitsha.

A co-presenter of the document, an economist, Dr. Uzochukwu Amakom, stated that projects allocated to the South East in the 2017 budget were either not started, abandoned, poorly executed or still ongoing.

The report, jointly organized by the South-East Governors’ Forum in collaboration with some non-governmental organisations, including Hope Givers Initiative, Christian Aid and Partnership to Engage, Reform and Learn in Enugu, therefore called on the Federal Government to faithfully implement the recently passed 2018 budget for the zone considering volumes of projects yawning for federal attention.

Presenting a graphic picture of the way and manner federal government is going about the bridge project; he explained that the project, which was proposed at an initial cost of N117 billion in 2013 and later adjusted to include railing and increase in the number of lanes from two to three, has never been captured in the budget.

According to him, “The project, which is supposed to have been completed in four years after its foundation stone laying ceremony in 2013, is still at the primary stage. Progress of work is very slow.

“Although the work was started with Julius Berger, they are yet to be awarded the contract formally. This was the story of the people at the site and was confirmed by the ministry.

Continuing, Dr. Amakom revealed that “We made efforts to speak to the Controller of Works in Awka to clear the matter without success at the time”.

Business Hilights recalls that at the heat of criticism on the handling of the project by the federal government, the hard-to-find Controller of Works in Awka, Engr. Innocent Alumonah was on hand with the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, during a media tour of the bridge construction site where he disclosed that a number of pilings have been completed.

However, both Alumonah and the Minister were silent on why a contract agreement for the bridge had not been signed clearly with Julius Berger or any other contractor on the project.

Analysts say jobs of such high magnitude and importance that are executed without a standing contract agreement can be said to be technically programmed for abandonment at a certain level of execution wherein there will be no legal condition to force anybody back to site after all.

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