The House of Representatives has resolved to investigate the slow pace of rehabilitation and expansion works on the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, Abuja-Kaduna-Zaria-Kano road and the Second Niger Bridge.
To be investigated are the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing, Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority, Julius Berger and other contractors engaged for the projects.
The resolution followed the unanimous adoption of a motion moved by Mr Ifeanyi Momah at the plenary on Thursday.
Adopting the motion, the House mandated the House Committee of Works to “determine if the contractors have the capacity to deliver the contracts awarded as scheduled.”
The committee is to also “investigate the level of work done on Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, Abuja-Kaduna-Zaria-Kano Expressway and 2nd Niger Bridge in order to determine if the amount disbursed so far has a commensurate value with the job done till date.”
Also, the panel will “determine if there is a potential conflict of interest in awarding the contracts to a single contractor and if the contract sums have been inflated.”
The committee is to report back to the House within four weeks.
Moving the motion, Momah said, “There is evidence of slow pace of work on these three critical projects, namely Lagos Ibadan Expressway, Abuja-Kaduna-Zaria-Kano Expressway and the 2nd Niger Bridge. This has resulted in traffic congestion, fatal accidents being recorded daily and a downturn in the economy of the states bordering these projects.
“These critical projects were designated to be funded under the Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund domiciled at Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority to ensure proper and prompt funding. Despite the prompt release of funds by NSIA, the projects are lagging behind schedule.
“As of December 2019, NSIA has released the following amounts: N19, 520,949,317.16 to Section 1 of Lagos Ibadan-Expressway; N80,242,079,039.46 to the 2nd Niger Bridge; N50,856,044,301.27 to Abuja-Kaduna-Zaria-Kano road, totalling the sum of N150,619,072,657.89.”
He further alleged that, “There is also a potential conflict of interest in Julius Berger’s involvement in the 2nd Niger Bridge. The 2nd Niger Bridge is made up of 3 sections: Phase 1 is the bridge, Phase 2a is Benin to Asaba expressway and Phase 2b is Onitsha to Enugu expressway.
“Phase 1 of the job was to be awarded on a Design-Build-Finance-Operate-Transfer basis under a Public-Private-Partnership scheme. Phase 2a and 2b were to be awarded as traditional contracts. The same job has now been (allegedly) awarded to Julius Berger for N206bn, as against the cost of N118bn valued by Bureau of Public Procurement.”
According to the lawmaker, a Swiss challenge bid process ought to be adopted to avoid a potential conflict of interest.
“Julius Berger is involved in all these three critical projects and other major road projects under SUKUK. All these projects are lagging behind schedule, which brings to fore Julius Berger’s capacity to handle the projects simultaneously.
“The use of Direct Procurement (Section 42 of the Public Procurement Act) in awarding these projects, as against the Opening Competitive Bidding (Section 24 of the Public Procurement Act) has deprived Nigerians of transparency, due process and potential to save money,” Momah said.