By Ikechukwu Okaforadi
Revelation emerged at the weekend how some of the contractors handling government projects across the Niger Delta region have resorted to executing substandard jobs and supplying substandard items to the federal government, at the detriment of people of the region.
The Niger Delta region is certainly an area which has attracted huge government investment, hence some contractors both local and foreign, have committed themselves to what they can rip off the government rather than delivering projects according to specifications and value.
According to the information revealed by the Minister during the 2017 Ministerial Briefing in Abuja, some of the contractors who had won contracts to supply furniture to the classrooms built by the ministry as part of its intervention projects, supplied poor quality desks some of which broke in the trucks even on their way to delivery to the schools.
The Minister, who was responding to questions on poor quality of supply and projects being executed by companies handling contracts and supplies in the ministry, admitted that he witnessed a case where desks were already breaking on the trucks which were conveying them to one of the schools built by the ministry in Porthacourt, Rivers State capital.
“Concerning poor delivery of infrastructure or furniture for the schools, whichever department is responsible, I know your head is here, let us know the contractor responsible for that supply to the Porthacourt school, I bear witness to this because I had an opportunity…I was traveling, and I found a truck going to deliver some of the desk to a particular school, because I had been told that the contractor responsible for furnishing of so and so school is on the way.
“And I did not go far before I saw the truck, without offloading, the chairs were already breaking on top of the truck. So if I know this one, he will replace those things, of course, if he fails to, he knows the alternative, so the relevant department let us know the contractor responsible for that supply, he has to go and do what is proper.
“That contractor, if he is also culpable, we will take appropriate action because we cannot afford to endanger the lives of the children that will be using those desks. The material used, if it is not good enough it can also be of danger, of harm to the children”, the minister said.
Recall that recently, the Minister of Niger Delta, UsaniUguruUsani, had in an interview he granted journalists in Abuja, reportedly threatened to handover about thirty contractors to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for prosecution over execution of poor quality jobs and other offences against federal government.
Even though the Minister later denied making this statement, apparently to calm down the already unsettled contractors doing various projects in the region, he later admitted during a Ministerial briefing last Friday that the ministry had blacklisted some contractors for doing substandard jobs in the region. He vowed that some of such contractors that are known for shoddy jobs will never get contract to execute until he leaves office.
He cited similar incident in which he said a contractor handling a project delivered a poor project, and when he was asked to redo the work, he rather opted to settle with the ministry for settlement.
In a related development, a source in the ministry told our correspondent in confidence that some of the desks and other utilities being supplied to schools usually break if they are being offloaded in the school premises, while other supplies spoil shortly after the end users begins to make use of them.
However, efforts by our correspondent to get the names of the contractors involved in this shoddy deals did not yield result as calls to the Director of Press in the Niger Delta Ministry, Marshall Gundu, could not be answered even as the phone rang out repeatedly.
Also, the text messages sent to his phone regarding the names of the contractors was equally not answered as at the time of filling this report.