History of the road:
* Peter Odili awarded the project at N11.8Bn for 37,7km (26% done)
* Chibuike Amaechi revised it to N31Bn for 44.9km, paid N25.8Bn (83% done)
* Nyesom Wike re-awarded it at N14Bn, paid N7Bn. Sim Fubara just said Wike paid 90% or N12.6Bn)
* Sim Fubara canceled it in June 2023 and re-awards it in July 2023, paid 30%. (Cost not available yet)
By Ignatius Chukwu
Will this be the last contract that would end the delays of 24 years on the vexed matter of the Unity Road?
The road began when an Opobo man was in the Brick House (as deputy governor) and may end when another Opobo man is in Brick House (governor). yet, people say where a man comes from does not matter in Nigeria civilian rule.
Are some contracts not awarded for political patronage of purely as cover to channel funds out of the system to elections, until a man who wants action comes to stop any drift?
The Unity Road project in Rivers State which seeks to connect Opobo town with the state capital and other upland parts of the state has just entered its fourth phase of contract re-award.
Now, the new state governor, Siminalayi Fubara, who incidentally hails from Opobo, has just re-awarded the project (July 27, 2023) after he cancelled it one month ago.
The new governor has shown anger, just as two other governors did in the past. Fubara warns that the state government would not tolerate any act of sabotage against the smooth execution of the re-awarded Andoni Road construction project in Andoni Local Government Area.
Gov Fubara gave the hint during a meeting with Andoni stakeholders and leaders at the Banquet Hall, Government House Port on Thursday, July 28, 2023.
Addressing the Andoni leaders, led by the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Zacchaeus Adangor, the governor decried what he termed the lack of commitment on the part of the previous contractors (Raffoul Nigeria Ltd) handling the projects after the agreeable contractual terms had been paid, which said led to the revocation and re-award of the project to a new contractor, Monier Construction Company, (MCC).
He explained that, “About two years ago, the immediate past Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike, held a meeting with Andoni leaders and the contractors to work out modalities of smooth implementation of the project. There was a contractual review and the money was paid by the government, but it’s so unfortunate that there wasn’t any progress on the project by the contractors, it pains us as a government that a project paid for 90 per cent is re awarded.
Expressing bitterness, the governor bared his mind: “About two years ago, we had a meeting at the State Executive Council Chamber where the immediate-past Governor, NyesomWike, discussed with Andoni people and leaders on the way forward on the project.
“In that meeting, the contractor was asked several questions and offered a blank cheque on what it will take to finish the road.
“I was the Accountant-General of the state then, so, I was privy to that meeting and the contractor said he needed a certain amount of money to complete the project.
“The commissioner for works was also in that meeting, we agreed and the money for the project was paid except the retention fund, which was about N1 billion.
“But, it is really unfortunate that there was no progress in that project. The road was not progressing and there were always stories here and there. When we came for campaigns, we promised them that I would ensure the delivery of the project. So, I invited the contractor, but he was not showing any serious sign that he wants to do the job.
“So, the government was left with no option, but to cancel the project after inspection.”
He assured that there would be no going back on the project this time, stressing that it must be completed within nine months.
He said 30 per cent of the new contract sum has been paid to the new contractors, MCC, and urged the people of Andoni to give the necessary support to the new contractors to complete the project within the next twelve months, noting that the project will expand economic development of the area.
Speaking on behalf of the Andoni stakeholders, the monarch, Aaron Miller Ikuru, thanked the governor for his commitment towards the execution of the Andoni Road project and assured the support of the people to contractors to deliver the project on specified time.
The Andoni leg of the Unity Road seems to be the segment posing the latest headache. The Unity Road has witnessed twists and turns.
Government officials are keeping the latest cost to their chests.