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Lack of funds threatens N6.8bn Lokoja, Oguta River port projects

Findings have revealed that lack of funding by the Federal Government is currently threatening to derail the construction of the Inland River Port project in Lokoja, Kogi State awarded in 2011/2012 at a cost of N4,112,346,572.26 to Inter Bau Construction Ltd. This is even as another River port project, awarded at the same period in Oguta, Imo State to Scott Amede Engineering Ltd for a fee of N2,743,625,787.15 is also facing similar dilemma as the contractor has abandoned work due to non payment from the Federal Government.

According to findings, the projects which were approved by the Federal Executive Council under former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan were designed to boost economic and commercial activities in Lokoja, Kogi State and Oguta in Imo States respectively

According to one of the employee’s of the contractor handling the Lokoja project who declined not to have his name in print, “the Federal Government is yet to pay the contractor a larger chunk of the money needed for the completion of the project.

“Since they released the first batch of money needed to complete the project, funding has stalled because the government of the day then probably wanted to use the port as an electioneering bargain to get the peoples vote in 2015.

“Due to lack of adequate funding, the project was executed at a slow pace as the contractor could not do more than the money that has been paid. However, the election result of 2015 turned everything upside down.

“A new government was sworn in and right now; there is a general feeling that the government of the day does not see anything viable in that river port. The action of the government of the day speaks volume of this.

“Since they took over government, a penny has not been released for that port and that is why work has stopped there. The port is just a little above 50 percent completed and if urgent actions are not taken, some of the works done will start dilapidating.

“Maybe it’s the economic recession thing, but as I speak to you, work has stopped on the River port construction in Lokoja. We just hope government changes its mind so that people like us can return back to work.”

In a similar vein, works have stopped on the Construction of the Inland River Port in Oguta, Imo State. Although the project has gone very far ahead of the Lokoja project; the contractor handling the project, Scott Amede Engineering Limited is still being owed part of the N2,743,625,787.15 approved in 2011/2012.

The contractor, it was reliably gathered stopped work when a new government came on board last year and is yet to return to site over fear of non payment.

When contacted, the Spokesman of NIWA, Tayo Fadile confirmed that the contractors handling the projects in Lokoja and Oguta are still being owed. In his words, “Government owes the contractors handling the Lokoja River port and Oguta River port. However, very soon work will commence as the new Managing Director has those ports in his plans.”

It would be recalled that on assumption of duty, the new Managing Director of NIWA, Boss Mustapha, embarked on a tour of the Lokoja project site with the Kogi State Governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello and assured of quick completion of the project.