By Festus Ahon
DELTA State House of Assembly has said it may have no other option than to recommend that ULO Consults, the firm awarded Sector ‘C’ of the Ughelli/Asaba road dualization project, be asked to refund the N7.4 billion collected for the project from the state government over non- performance.
The Chairman, House Committee on Works, Mr Evance Ivwurie, who led other members of the committee on an inspection of the 46 kilometre road project as part of the oversight functions of the House, regretted the attitude of the contractor who even after allegedly collecting the last N566 million from the state government, failed to mobilize back to site.
The lawmaker said poor execution of the road project, the Asaba Airport project and Mariam Babangida road project in Asaba metropolis awarded to ULO Consults, have continued to cause so much pains to Deltans and untold embarrassment to the state government.
Ivwhurie said: “What is evident from these two inspections, assessments and evaluation of the construction of Mariam Babangida Way, Asaba, and Sector C of the Asaba – Ughelli Road dualization carried out today by Delta State House of Assembly Committee on Works, which I chair, is that these two strategic projects have been abandoned by the contractor awarded both projects, ULO Consults Limited.
“We believe that our laws and contracting policies can never be taken for granted by any contractor, and this committee has both legal and moral duty and responsibility to get all failed and erring contractors in the state to make retribution, refund payments for work not done.
“We will prove to all recalcitrant contractors in the state that the rule of law must govern human behaviour. And by doing so, this committee will broaden the scope and reach of justice for all Deltans deprived by these dissident contractors the use of these projects for which they have collected monies from the state government.
“As a Committee and a House, we hold ourselves out as a beacon and an example of the independence of the institution of Delta State House of Assembly because the state government, our people and the entire state depend on us as an independent institution to build and protect the state government’s legacy projects and programmes. That is how we will protect our state. That is how we will protect our constitution against all threats from renegade and rebellious contractors.”
Accompanied by Chief Denis Omovie, Mr Daniel Mayuku and others, Ivwhurie directed that the contractor should submit to the committee all relevant documents on the two road projects.
Officials of Delta State Ministry of Works, Mr Felix Ewenede and Solomon Aragba, both engineers, also decried the abandonment of the two road projects and expressed concern over the alleged refusal of the contractor to return to site even after collecting mobilization.
The Special Project Director of the Ughelli/Asaba Road dualization, Mr. Sunny Onuesoke, told the committee members that by his assessment the work done so far on the Sector ‘C’ of the road project is less than 15%, despite the huge amount allegedly collected by the contractor.
He said the contract was initially awarded for N14 billion with 25% mobilization paid, but later reviewed upward to N19 billion and other payments made bringing the total money paid by the state government to the contractor to N7.4 billion.
ULO Consults Limited, represented by Mr Gabriel Okpunor, Jerome Adeyemi, an engineer and Mr. Alli Bugawe, claimed that the state government was owing the firm for work done so far as certificates raised on the projects have not been paid.
They said the Sector ‘C’ of the Ughelli/Asaba Road dualization is 35% complete, a claim that angered the lawmakers and officials of the Delta State Ministry of Works.
The committee is to meet with the Chairman of ULO Consults, Chief Uche Okpunor at the State House of Assembly Complex in Asaba where both parties are expected to seek the best way forward in addressing challenging issues.