By Kauthar Anumba-Khaleel, Abuja –
The House of Representatives yesterday expressed concern over the construction the second Niger bridge and the Lagos-Ibadan express way saying that it is still unclear if the projects are fully funded by the government or they are being executed under a concession agree with private companies.
To that end, it urged the Federal Government to take definitive decision on the funding and execution of the second Niger Bridge and the Lagos-Ibadan Road project.
The resolution is contained in a motion on the Need to Investigate Nature of the Contract or Concession Arrangement on Second Niger Bridge and Lagos-Ibadan Expressway sponsored by Hon. Solomon Maren.
In his lead debate, Maren recalled that the minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, recently warned that the second Niger Bridge and the Lagos-Ibadan Road could end up as white elephant projects as allocation for the projects in the 2017 budget were not adequate and were not covered under concession agreement.
He noted that contracts for the construction of the second Niger-Bridge and reconstruction of the Lagos-Ibadan Express Road, have continued to feature in the annual budgets without any seeming signal of their completion or the amount required to do so adding that the manner of the execution of both projects has not been in accordance with defined methods for executing projects or contracting procedures.
Speaking on the motion, the Chairman of the committee on works, Hon. Toby Okechukwu, who insisted that it is necessary for government to come up with a framework for the completion the projects, explained that while the Lagos-Ibadan Road is meant to have alternative funding, the Federal Government has not made a clear-cut decision on the funding plan for the second Niger-Bridge.
Okechukwu stressed the need for government to quit the “piece-meal procurement” funding method it has been using.
Similarly, Hon. Mohammed Sani-Abdul particularly lamented the state of the second Niger bridge noting that despite the litigation on the Lagos-Ibadan Road, work was still on going.
Abdul attributed the non utilisation of the N14 billion appropriated in 2016 budget and the N10 billion allocated in 2017 for the second Niger Bridge to the fact that the concession agreement for the project was between Federal Government and an international investment company which sub-contracted the project to Julius Berger Plc.
The lawmaker who is a member of the joint technical committee of the National Assembly on both projects, explained that with no contract between the Federal Government and Julius Berger, the construction firm cannot be directly funded through budgetary allocations for the project.
In adopting the motion, the House also mandated its Committee on Works, to investigate the nature of the contracts and concession arrangement and report back in four weeks for further legislative action.