The federal government yesterday approved N36.1bn for the construction of Oju/Loko-Oweto bridge over River Benue to Link Loko in Nasarawa State and Oweto in Benue State.
When completed, the contract awarded to a foreign firm, Messrs Reynolds with a completion period of 48 months, would not only reduce the heavy traffic on the Abuja Lokoja road and cut two hours off from Abuja to Enugu, it is said to be a strategic road for North Central, South East and South South zones in the country.
The Minister Information, Mr. Labran Maku, who briefed State House correspondents alongside his Works counterpart, Mr. Mike Onolememen, after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting at the presidential villa Abuja, also disclosed that the Minister of State for Finance, Yerima Ngama, tabled a memo before the council.
He added that the memo sought to ratify an approval by President Goodluck Jonathan “for a direct procurement of two A30 Sea Princess Boats with back up spare parts and training of crew member for the Nigeria Customes Services (NCS)”.
Maku said, “The Marine Unit of the Nigeria Customes Services (NCS) was established to complement other law enforcement agencies in checking various forms of smuggling along the Nigerian waterways and creeks. But over the years, the Marine Unit has not been adequately equipped and almost half of the boats in it’s fleet are now completely grounded.
“In order to re-invigorate the Unit, Councial ratified the president’s approval for the Direct Procurement of two A30 Sea Princess Boats with back up spare parts and training of crew members, in favor of Messrs John Holt Plc, in the sum of N270,000,000.00 only, inclusive of all taxes and charges, with delivery period of six weeks”.
Maku said the council meeting presided over by President Goodluck Jonathan, with Vice-President Namadi Sambo in attendance, deliberated on a number of issues that were crucial to the progress of the nation, including a report by the Presidential Project Assessment Committee headed by Arc. Ibrahim Bunu on water projects.
Most of the issues on the report, he said, was associated with dam projects across the country which were discussed by the committee.
“Bunu stated that Nigeria has about 200 dam projects, some of them completed, while others are at various stages of completion. They were designed to supply water for human consumption and agriculture, Fisheries and to generate electricity for the country”, he added.
The minister said, “From the report of the committee, the 200 dams together can generate 3600 Mega watts of electricity for the nation. Also, they have the capacity to irrigate 3.1Million hectares of land for various agricultural purposes.
“Unfortunately for our country, even itility value of those dams that have been completed have been very low. The committee came up with silent observations which council deliberated upon. Most of these observations also fall in line with previous observations when we were discussing roads”.
Maku further hinted that, in the course of shedding light on the matter, the committee shed indicated that most of the dam lacked the kind of complete designs that would have expedited the construction of those dams.
He said the committee noted that the issues on ground affected technical design, as well as the proper costing of some of the dams projects.
“Generally, we all agreed and the President directed that the economic management team should take a look at the issues that were raised by the BUNU committee on the dam projects, particularly the areas as to what should be done to avoid the mistakes that have been made in the past”, he pointed out.
Maku added that council agreed that for other projects to come to FEC in the future, just as they must have Mr. President’s directive that these areas should be looked into to prevent future mistakes.
In addition, council agreed that there must detail designs and proper costs which will guide FEC in the award of the contract and a provision in all the budgetary years through which the project gestation period falls so as to ensure that projects are no longer abandoned.
Maku went on to disclose: “We also agreed to reinforce the technical departments of some of the key construction ministries so that we have efficient supervision of projects that in drawing up agreements on contracts, there is the need to critically look into the areas of protecting public as against contractors’ interests.
“We also agreed that these dam projects are very crucial for the nation; so, we would do a road map to ensure that we complete some of the ongoing dam projects, because completing these dam projects will be very strategic for the development of Nigeria”.