Some contractors handling projects with the federal ministry of Works have expressed concerns over how the minister, David Umahi, has handled issues so far, particularly the non-payment for executed contracts.
The contractors alleged that the minister had already concluded plans to tamper with contracts already awarded by FEC under the guise of review.
But in a swift reaction, Umahi faulted the allegations, saying he has no friends, no enemies and no companies as far as his assignment as minister of Works is concerned.
Addressing journalists in Abuja at the weekend on behalf of the contractors, Vitalis Chikwendu, had accused the minister of stalling the progress of work by deliberately refusing to treat files and sidelining civil servants who have institutional memory.
He said instead of grandstanding over what is legally due to the contractors in the line with due process, the minister should work towards reversing decision by the National Assembly to alter the 2022 supplementary budget which made copious provisions for flood control infrastructure.
Ezenwata noted that the lawmakers tinkered with the sum of N180 billion earmarked for the construction and rehabilitation of roads among other flood control infrastructure after amending the 2022 supplementary budget for the said money to be paid to contractors handling work on flood control infrastructures.
Chikwendu who was flanked by other contractors, including representatives of their foreign counterparts, alleged that the minister has about 80 different companies some of which he plans to use in executing the projects once his plans to tamper with the contracts scales through.
“We are ready for him as he has no power to tamper with contracts duly approved by FEC.
“As I talk to you, the directors and other senior staff in the ministry are disenchanted because he is running the ministry like his personal business and has bragged that he would review even contracts awarded by the Federal Executive Council,” he added.
The contractors said instead of getting briefings from directors and other senior staff to enable him know the state of projects being handled by or supervised by the ministry before determining next line of action, Umahi elected to traverse the states in his desperate attempt to engage in window dressing.
Meanwhile, in his reaction, the Works minister refuted allegations that he was pursuing the agenda to change from asphalt roads to concrete so that he could give the work to his company.
Speaking during a press briefing at the conference room of the ministry yesterday, Umahi vowed not to place the interest of anybody above the interest of God, noting that the interest of God is the interest of the people.
This, the minister said, is why he is poised to work in line with the renewed hope agenda of Mr President.
Umahi also refuted the allegation that he was sidelining the directors of the ministry, noting instead that he carries them along and accepts their opinions when they are better than his because he is open to advice and accepts superior arguments.
He said he was aware of the campaign of calumny by some individuals who are not ready to accept the fact that things must be done the right way.
Umahi who noted that some detractors were set to frighten him so that he will not question some wrongdoings, said no amount of blackmail can deter him.
He revealed that a lot of work is not going on in the South East and announced that he will be going there on inspection and whoever has received money for a bad job or an undone job will be compelled to go back and do what he has been paid for.
He said the Ministry has always engaged its contractors in agreement with the general condition of contracts, which is the standard that all engineers are expected to abide by.
The minister said his preference for concrete roads is due to the fact that it has at least 50 years shelf life, will reduce the pressure on naira, boost the economy of the country and create employment since there are indigenous companies producing cement unlike bitumen that is being imported for asphalt.
“Let me clarify an issue that we are not asking those who are presently working on asphalt road not to use asphalt to do their work. I will emphasis on that more and our position is that asphalt road design should be a lifespan of 30 years.
“The contractors that are going to use asphalt must sign that an agreement with us that the road will last for 30 years. We are not stopping asphalt work at all but it is not possible to be paying the job that we know very well that it will not stand for five years. Contractors hide under funny excuse of overloading for road not standing long,” he said.