The Acting Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, Mrs. Ibim Semenitari, has ordered the commencement of legal processes towards terminating the contract for the construction of a 522-bed space prototype hostel at the Ambrose Ali University in Ekpoma, Edo State.
Giving the directive on Wednesday, after inspecting the hostel project at the Ekpoma campus of the university, in the company of other directors of the Commission, Mrs. Semenitari said that the hostel would be re-assigned to a more competent contractor.
The NDDC boss said she was dismayed that a contract that was awarded to Unibright ENGRG Limited. since 2004 had barely reach 25 per cent completion. “Contractors like this should not be allowed to go scot free. This is unfathomable. By next week I want to sign the termination letter for this contract so that it can be re-assigned to a contractor who is ready to work to get the job back on track,” she declared.
Mrs. Semenitari apologised to the university community for the poor performance of the contractor whom she said had gone contrary to the standards of the NDDC. She acknowledged the efforts of the university authority in raising concerns about the appalling attitude of the contractor through letters to the Commission. “These are problems that come up when you are dealing with a lot of things at the same time. The Commission has a lot on its plate with 8,000 plus jobs. It’s always not too easy to be on top of all of it. We apologise where standards are below par but the whole idea of what we are doing is to come back to speed and come back to standards,” she said.
The NDDC team also inspected other projects in Edo State, including the model comprehensive health centre at Obozogbe-Niro in Orhionmwon Local Government Area; the 23-kilometre Obozogbe-Abudu Road; the Market Street to Wire Road in Ubiaja, Esan South-East LGA; the 31-kilometre Ekpoma-Uhiele-Ujiogba Road in Esan West LGA and the Major General Esekhiagbe Road in Irrua, Esan Central LGA. Equally inspected on Thursday was the 32-kilometre Udo-Ofunama Road in Ovia South-West LGA, described by Mrs. Semenitari as a historic regional road.
Giving her impressions after the two-day inspections, the NDDC Acting MD said that she had seen some good and some bad performances by the contractors. She added: “You can also see that the quality of supervision on the projects from the Edo State office is quite commendable. It is very strong and very high. Where there have been lapses, it has been because the state office was not hands on and directly involved and so they were unable to rein in the contractors. Clearly, this just goes to re-enforce the fact that we must strengthen the state offices to be able to carry out the monitoring and evaluation of our projects.”
She said further: “Yes, we have some areas we have been very upset. It is very sad because the funds are not ours to spend as we please. The funds do not belong to the contractors as well to use as they will. So, it is sad when you see contractors who have taken money and done nothing and then you see other contractors who have done so much and are being owed by the commission. You just wonder why we are not striking the balance here. Again, these things happen but the idea is to move on and we are moving on.”
As a follow-up to the inspections, Mrs. Semenitari said that the NDDC had arranged meetings with some of the contractors that had shown some prospects in delivering on their projects. “We have asked them to come and meet with us at the head office in Port Harcourt, where we will have serious discussions and hope that they will thereafter do the right things. Where they don’t, we will take other measures to ensure that we compel them to keep to our standards. For those like the contractor for the Ambrose Ali University, we have no option than to terminate and re-award the contract.”