Nigeria’s House of Representatives on Wednesday frowned at the modalities adopted in the procurement of the 2nd Niger Bridge.
Toby Okechukwu, chairman, House Committee on Works, who stated this in a talk with Legislative correspondents, said further delay in the procurement process might cost Nigeria N10 billion if the contractor handling the project demobilise on completion of the phase four of the earthwork by next month.
Checks reveal that N9.5 billion was appropriated for the construction of the 2nd Niger Bridge including access roads phase 2A & 2B in Anambra and Delta states and other projects in the South East, in the 2018 Appropriation Bill, which has just been passed.
Okechukwu, who called for overhaul of the procurement process, lamented that the 2nd Niger Bridge, which would have cost N60 billion about 10 years ago, would gulp over N200 billion presently.
He said: “Why are you not procuring the entire contract? And there is no framework for expenditure of money put in the budget if you don’t have a contract. That the money put in the budget will be a waste if you don’t award the contract.
“And why should you award four different contracts going through processes for the past three to four years. So, there must be an end to every litigation.
“If this contract is not awarded prior to the end of June, it will be colossal in terms of the economic and financial consequences in the contract execution.
“If Julius Berger demobilises and has to mobilise again, it will cost you not less than N10 billion. And more importantly, you’ll not be able to take advantage of the seasonal weather issues.
“The consequences is that we will still be talking about this project in the next one year. And they have a process that’s on. We’re not at ease with piecemeal award of contract.
“Why don’t you establish a framework for the completion of the project by awarding a contract? That’s why the monies put in 2015, 2016 and 2017 budget for the bridge haven’t been accessed because it’s not awarded.
“The bridge would have cost N60 billion about 10 years ago, now it’s going to cost well over N200 billion and if we leave it till next year, it’ll cost well above that,” the Enugu lawmaker said.
While stressing the need to review the process, he noted that President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration had not awarded the main contract for the construction of the 2nd Niger Bridge due to the bureaucratic bottlenecks posed by Bureau for Public Procurement (BPP).
He explained that the construction work being done by Julius Berger was the early earthwork, which is in four stages, and not the building of the bridge as the public was being made to believe.
He explained further that while Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing had concluded work on the contract details and forwarded it to the BPP for approval, the inability of the BPP to approve the contract was holding back the Buhari administration from awarding the contract for the bridge.
According to Okechukwu, Julius Berger is scheduled to complete the early earthwork by June, warning that unless the BPP approves the contract for procurement, the construction firm may demobilise.
“Am aware that the ministry has concluded their negotiations with Julius Berger and submitted it to due process. Due process is the ones holding the process down.
“Julius Berger is working. They’re piecemeal; early earthworks one, two, three and four. Early earthworks four will end in June. If it ends, you’ll go through procurement again,” he noted.