By Taiwo Ajayi
A House of Representatives Ad-hoc Committee has been investigating the delay and inflated cost of the Ijebu-Igbo Ita Ibadan Road project.
The road was awarded to DC Engineering Limited in 2018 for N9.8 billion, but it has not been completed five years later. The committee heard that the Federal Ministry of Works only paid 15% of the mobilization fee in several instalments over five years.
DC Engineering Limited said it had asked the ministry to review the contract sum due to the high cost of materials, but the ministry refused. The company was then surprised to learn that the ministry had re-awarded the same contract to AREATECH Construction Ltd for N54.3 billion without terminating DC Engineering’s contract.
The ministry said it had terminated DC Engineering’s contract in September 2022, but it did not provide any evidence to support this claim. The ministry also did not provide any documents showing that AREATECH Construction Ltd had been awarded the contract or that it had the necessary approvals.
The committee also heard allegations that Hon. Tolulope Akande Sadipe, a member of the House of Representatives, had been interfering with the project. DC Engineering Limited alleged that Sadipe had been promoting AREATECH Construction Ltd and had been trying to prevent DC Engineering from completing the project.
Sadipe denied these allegations and said she was not involved in the project.
The committee chairman, Hon. Kwamoti Bitrus Laori, said the committee would not be witch-hunting anyone, but it would get to the bottom of the matter. He directed the ministry and all other relevant parties to submit the required documents to the committee by Monday, September 11, 2023.
The committee then adjourned sine die.
The Ijebu-Igbo Ita Ibadan Road project saga is a clear example of the corruption and incompetence that is rampant in the Nigerian government. It is a shame that a project that was supposed to be completed in two years has dragged on for five years and is still not finished. The committee’s investigation is a step in the right direction, but it is only a first step. The government must take concrete action to root out corruption and ensure that public projects are completed on time and within budget.
In addition to the corruption allegations, the Ijebu-Igbo Ita Ibadan Road project saga also raises questions about the government’s procurement process. How is it possible that a contract can be awarded for N54.3 billion when the original contract was for N9.8 billion? This is a clear case of overpricing, and it is a waste of taxpayers’ money.
The government must reform its procurement process to ensure that contracts are awarded fairly and transparently. The government must also put in place measures to prevent corruption in public projects. Only then can we ensure that our roads are built on time and within budget.