Projects estimated to worth billions of naira have been abandoned by contractors at the University of Uyo, leaving the main campus with a litany of uncompleted structures.
The University operates a two-campus system with the town campus located within Uyo metropolis, while the main campus is located along Nwaniba road.
According to checks by our correspondent, a total of nine projects funded by TETFUND, NEEDS Assessment Project and the Niger Delta Development Commission worth over billions of naira have been abandoned with work ongoing at a snail speed on a handful of other projects.
It was gathered that the contractors handling the projects had either deliberately stopped work to seek revaluation of the projects through contract variation or “delaying the work unnecessarily by working at a very slow pace.”
A top official of the university confirmed that funds had been released for the projects in phases, adding that contractors were expected to utilise the funds released judiciously before asking for more funds.
Among the projects abandoned is the proposed agricultural laboratory, the contract of which was awarded in 2011 and funded by the Federal Government.
However, authorities of the institution blamed the delay in the completion of the projects on the release of funds.
Sunday Bassey, director of physical planning of the University who spoke with our reporter, absolved the institution of any complicity in the delay in completion of the projects.
He denied insinuations that some of the projects have been abandoned, adding that the projects are ongoing but “at a slow pace.”
He stated that though non-release of adequate funds have stagnated the projects directly handled by the Federal Government, Bassey said money is released to the contractors as they complete the projects in phases.
He said that for about seven projects funded under the NEEDS assessment project of the Federal Government, funds have been released for all the projects but that contractors handling TETFUND-funded projects could not access more money until they had utilised the fund earlier released.
According to him, the agricultural laboratory project was N400 million, adding that only N18 million was released.
He however, explained that although N35 million was later released for the job, the contractor has not shown up for work, explaining that the University was planning to re-award the job to another contractor.
“Some of those projects are not actually abandoned. Work is going on but maybe at a very slow pace because of the attitude of contractors and because of the release of funds by the funding organisations either Federal Government or TETFUND or NEEDS Assessment.
“Government has been releasing money but in trickles. For example, a project of over N400 million, government will release only N18 million in a year. That means it will take more than 20 years to complete that project; you cannot say that project is abandoned because we are interested, the contractor is interested, but the money is not coming.
“That is the problem; in fact, that affects most of the projects, if not all. A few of them, the contractors are the problem because they are not forthcoming even though the money is there,” he stated.
Uche Osuji, a site engineer supervising the construction of staff offices for the Faculty of Engineering, told our reporter that work was at 60 percent completion and hoped that it would be completed in three months.
He however, called for the revalidation of the project as the cost of executing the project has increased from when the contract was awarded, adding that they need more funds to complete the work and have applied for it.
The Vice Chancellor of the University, Enefiok Essien who assumed office in 2015 could not be reached for his comments on the issue of abandoned projects in the institution.
ANIEFIOK UDONQUAK, Uyo