Senate invites Fashola, Ahmed to disclose costs of road projects, others

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Senate invites Fashola, Ahmed to disclose costs of road projects, others

The Senate has invited the Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, and her Works and Housing counterpart, Babatunde Fashola, to explain the variation of the contracts for some key road projects.

Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola (left); Director of Bridges and Design, Emmanuel Adeoye; Director of Highways (South-West), Adedamola Kuti and Federal Controller of Works in Lagos State, Olukayode Popoola during the minister’s visit to the ongoing rehabilitation of Third Mainland Bridge in Lagos…yesterday.

Some of the jobs tagged Legacy Projects include Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, Second Niger Bridge and Abuja -Kano Expressway.

At a meeting yesterday, the Senate Committee on Finance said it needed detailed information on the cost of the federal projects.

Also to appear before the committee which has Solomon Adeola Olamilekan as chairman is the Managing Director, Sovereign Investment Authority (SIA), Mr. Uche Orji.

The invitation was a sequel to the disclosure by Orji that his agency had no details of the cost of some of the projects.

Olamilekan disclosed at the meeting that he had asked for the initial cost of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway and the current cost as a result of variation, but that Orji said only the Ministry of Works and Finance could provide the information needed by the committee.

The SIA boss argued that some of the projects predated his agency.

In his response, Olamilekan asked: “What was the initial cost? Of course, there was variation. Who approved it and what is the present cost as at today.?”

The lawmaker, who lamented that only $300 million had been released for the projects so far, said: “On the issue of funding, by virtue of the information at my disposal and by what the Finance minister made me understand, two years down the line, only $300m is in the books. This calls for concern.
“We believe that funding is critical to these projects. If the funding is not there, there is no way we can achieve those time frame that you have set out for the completion of the projects.

“On that note, we would be bringing on board the minister of finance, minister of works and housing, managing director of the NSIA, accountant general of the federation and the contractors who should be invited by Fashola.”

On the variation of the contracts, Olamilekan said the committee wanted to know the value and the scope of work that the variant covers.

“We want to know it because we don’t have it. That is why we want to know the actual value for the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, for the Abuja-Kaduna-Kano and for the second Niger Bridge.”

Orji said: “Every day we argue out the issue of variation because any slight change affects my budget because I have a number that I’m working towards. Any change in the scope of work is a problem for us. I can’t answer some of the questions that border on variation and events that took place before I took over.

“ We need to sit down with the active players in the award of the historical contract preceding our entrance. On the second Niger Bridge, so far, half of the money has been disbursed.”

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