THREE multibillion naira road projects awarded by the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing (FMWH) have remained uncompleted 10 years after they were awarded.
The projects were approved under the administration of a former president, Goodluck Jonathan.
The projects are the Nkporo-Abariba Ohafia, awarded at a contract sum of N2.73 billion; the Abariba-Arochukwu-Ohafia road approved for an award at N2.26 billion; and the Ohafia-Oso road, approved at N2.29 billion, all in Abia State…Continue Reading
The contracted firms for the projects are Dutum Construction Limited, Beks Kimse Nigeria Limited, and Uniglobe, respectively.
Two of the road projects date back to 2012 while the other was awarded in 2013, But till date, they have not been completed and are not beneficial to rural dwellers who would have largely relied on them for their daily socio-economic activities.
The FMWH has distanced itself from awarding all three projects, saying it awarded only two. The two projects it claimed to have awarded are the Abariba-Arochukwu-Ohafia and Ohafia-Oso roads.
Findings revealed the projects have already been tagged ‘No Work in Progress’ by the works ministry responsible for its delivery.
On January 24, The ICIR wrote a Freedom of Information request to the FMWH requesting for information on the level of work done on the selected road projects in Abia State, in the South-east region.
The response discovered that two of the three road projects – the Nkporo-Abariba-Ohafia road and the Abariba-Arochukwu-Ohafia road were awarded in 2012, while the third, the Ohafia-Oso road, was awarded in 2013.
The Ohafia-Oso road work is the only project that has attained about 80 per cent completion, while the two earlier mentioned have not completed 30 per cent.
Project neglected since 2018
Findings revealed that the first awarded project, the Nkporo-Abariba Ohafia-road, offered to Dutum Construction Limited was contracted on June 22, 2012.
From the awarded sum of N2.73 billion, only N670.58 million was released to the contractor and no additional payment has been paid to date.
The project commenced on September 26, 2012, with an initial delivery date set at March 25, 2014.
The completion date was later extended by four years to 2018.
Dutum however could not continue with the execution of the project as the government has not approved the contract augmentation based on new realities.
The FMWH said “No work progress for the past 4 years as the contractor is awaiting APPROVAL for contract augmentation.”
Also, The ICIR attempted to establish the exact reason the project was delayed by visiting the Dutum corporate office at the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), but there was no response.
Since 2018 till date, nothing has been done on the project.
Abandoned since 2019
The second project, the Abariba-Arochukwu-Ohafia road, was awarded to BEKs Kimse Nigeria Limited on December 13, 2012. From the N2.26 billion awarded sum, only N864.41 million has been paid to date.
Also, the contractor was expected to have completed the project by October 2015 but based on the available data, the project has only reached 20.37 per cent completion and has, however, been put on hold since 2019.
Same fate as that of the project awarded to Dutum was applicable to BEKs as the FG didn’t mobilise the contractor back to the project site.
The project is tagged “No work in progress.”
Project discarded since 2018
On February 12, 2013, the N2.29 billion Ohafia-Oso federal road project that links Abia State to Enugu State was awarded to Uniglobe Construction Engineering Limited.
The initial completion date of the project was 2015. It has reached 79 per cent work stage, but only N1.52 billion has been paid to the contractor to date.
Despite extending the project delivery date to 2017, the project is still hanging as the contractor is said to be waiting for approval of fund augmentation to tackle ecological challenges on the site.
What we found out about Dutum Construction Ltd
Dutum Construction Limited was subjected to public search on the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), but the result displayed ‘No Result found.’
Even though the company name above was the contractor’s appellation as contained in the ministry’s official response to The ICIR, it was never found on the CAC portal.
A similar company name, Dutum Company Limited, was, however, found on the dashboard, but it is uncertain if it was an error from the ministry or if the company was a different entity.
Regardless, Dutum Company Limited itself was labelled an inactive company by the CAC.
The ICIR could also not independently validate if the company was inactive when the respective road contract was awarded to it.
Still, being tagged inactive has few implications, such as failure to remit annual returns to the CAC.
Dutum Company Limited, with registration number 140577, was registered in November 1989.
Public documents showed it has four directors – Tundee Runsewe, Funke Runsewe, James Runsewe and Peju Runsewe.
Based on the information on the public spaces, the company is registered as a private unlimited company and majors in construction works.
On June 30, 2022, TheICIR visited the Abuja branch office, but the official who appeared to be the head of the branch declined the interview and stated that any information should be channelled to the company’s head office.
Other contacts found on the firm’s official website were reached. One Temitope Runsewe, who picked the call, directed this reporter to the Abuja branch, which the reporter had already visited.
Several attempts to reach Temitope Runsewe again were futile as he refused to pick up calls nor reply to text messages.
Controversy surrounds BEKs Kimse Nig. Ltd
Public record from the CAC shows that BEKS Kimse Nig. Ltd was founded in January 2020. That was eight years after the project was awarded to it.
Also, other findings showed that the same firm was established in 1994, as found on Bloomberg.
The ICIR reached out to a CAC official who said the firm could have been registered long before the project award but later became inactive, only to be reactivated years after.
According to a CAC staff who pleaded anonymity, he said “There are cases where the agency delist organisations may be, they fail to remit their annual return. But before then, there must have been some kind of alert to the agency.
UNIGLOBE stops project at 80 per cent
UNIGLOBE construction engineering limited was incorporated in LAGOS, Nigeria with Registration Number 73559. It was registered on July 11, 1985.
CAC search also revealed the firm was inactive. It has two directors-Ohis Henry and Imobhio Cyprian and two legal officers- Ibrahim Nasir Mantu and Bulus Kewa.
To ascertain whether the organisation is versed in construction project execution, this reporter ran a check on Google using the organization name but all efforts proved abortive.
The Facebook account of Uniglobe construction engineering limited is no longer active. No information could be accessed using the Facebook page.
It’s also unclear if this organisation fulfilled the requirements before it was awarded the contract, but a public check showed that they are currently inactive.
The Executive Director of Dataphyte, Joshua Olufemi, said many projects get abandoned because they did not go through a thorough process during it nomination.
He said “I think we can say most of the projects are probably nominated or budgeted for without a thorough process. There’s a possibility that most times, the government that budgeted for these projects are not deliberate about completing them in the first place, and so it’s always easy for them to deprioritise or divert the money that’s meant for these projects. That challenge of even to ascertain whether they have a fund to implement or not, so when the fund doesn’t come, the projects get abandoned.”
Joshua, who has tracked multiple such projects, said corruption in procuring the contract is another reason for abandoning it.
He said “Another instance is a situation where a lot of corruptions go into the Procurement or the contract awarded to the contractors, one being what you have on paper is not what the contractor end up getting and because they don’t get what’s due to complete the project, they only start a project and when the fund is exhausted they get to abandoned the project.
He added that lack of government continuity is a challenge. “you start a project, yes, you may not have the money to complete it this year but you don’t then factor all your abandoned and uncompleted budget into next year’s budget, you just start a fresh set of projects.”
He, however, states that if a contractor has been paid and fails to deliver, the onus lies on the government to recover the funds or ensure its completion.