In a stern declaration, Senator Dave Umahi, the Minister of Works, has issued a 14-day ultimatum to contractors responsible for dormant road projects, warning of contract revocation if they fail to return to the construction sites swiftly.
This decisive pronouncement came during a press briefing at the Presidential Villa in Abuja, following a private meeting with President Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
Umahi’s message also included a strong threat against contractors who oppose the use of concrete in road construction. He cautioned that these contractors, acting in concert against the use of concrete, may face legal action from anti-corruption agencies, including the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences (ICPC).
Senator Umahi, who expressed his unwavering stance against the alleged contractor collusion and attempts at blackmail, affirmed that President Tinubu has endorsed using concrete for reinforcement in road construction.
Furthermore, the Minister, an engineer himself, revealed that certain contractors have already embraced this policy, with major cement producers offering discounts to government road builders supporting this approach. Senator Umahi vehemently warned against the dubious practice of securing multiple projects but inadequately allocating resources, sometimes deploying as few as two units of equipment to the work sites.
In his bid to streamline operations and thwart any covert efforts to obstruct the government’s development initiatives, Umahi threatened to identify and remove individuals within the ministry who have been conniving with contractors to hinder progress.
Responding to questions from journalists after the meeting with President Tinubu, the Minister elucidated that individuals benefiting from the opposition to the administration’s new direction within the ministry were becoming a significant obstacle.
Furthermore, Senator Umahi disclosed that President Tinubu has granted approval for various interventions on several critical road projects, including the East-West Road, Benin-Sapele Road, Owerri-Onitsha Road, Lokoja, Shandam, Lafia, the resurfacing and substructure work on the Third Mainland Bridge, as well as the restoration of collapsed bridges, including two in Enugu.
To expedite progress, a dedicated task force has been established in the locations where these approvals were granted, ensuring the completion of all necessary work within a three-month timeline. Additionally, consultants will be deployed to oversee road construction projects, with in-house engineers gaining valuable experience on-site.
In a poignant and patriotic statement, the Minister underscored the critical importance of these actions, emphasizing that several contractors, despite receiving substantial payments from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), have failed to commence work on their respective sites. Umahi stressed the national significance of these endeavors, echoing the sentiment that the nation’s children and its future are at stake in these vital infrastructure initiatives.