Coming on the heels of the recent visit by the House of Representatives Committee on Environment and Habitat of erosion sites ravaging most villages and communities in Anambra state, another National Assembly committee- the Senate Committee on Works has visited the state also, promising to amend and re appropriate the 2017 Budget draft of the Federal Government to include the 18.5kilometre- Umunya to Amawbia axis of the now abandoned Enugu-Onitsha Federal Highway project.
The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Works, Senator Kabiru Gaya gave the promise when the committee met with Gov Willie Obiano and members of the State Executive Council at the Governor’s Lodge, Awka.
The delegation include the Committee’s Vice-chairman, Senator Clifford Ordia, Senator Barnabas Gemade, representing Benue North District, Senator Biodun Olujimi of Ekiti South District and her Yobe East Counterpart, Senator Bukar Abba-Ibrahim.
Others were Senators Mao Ohuabunwa, (Abia North), Ben Bruce (Bayelsa East) and Ibrahim Dambaba (Sokoto South District).
The Anambra stretch of the Enugu-Onitsha federal highway was awarded in 2007 to Consolidated Construction Company(CCC) for N11bn to be completed within two years. The project was however abandoned midway when, according to sources from CCC they were mandated to rescope the project without room for variation in the original contract sum.
The contractors noted that they then chose to follow international legal procedure in such situation which was to leave the project where the money given to them gets exhausted.
The Senate Works Committee Members were in the State on inspection of ongoing and abandoned Federal Roads as well as the Second Niger Bridge project as part of their oversight function.
Governor Obiano while welcoming the Federal Lawmakers, regretted that there has been no presence of the federal government in the state since the inception of his administration. He therefore expressed hope that the visit would give impetus to his administration’s efforts at addressing the anomaly.
He appealed for the inclusion of more Federal Roads in the State in the 2017 Federal government Budget especially the Umueze Anam- Kogi federal highway, Oba-Nnewi-Okigwe road, Onitsha -Aguleri-Adani road and Okija -Ihiala-Uli-Egbema road among others.
The governor informed the Senate Delegation that no activity was going on at the Onitsha end of the Second Niger Bridge even with his administration’s resolution of the conflicts among communities in the area over right of passage and thanked the Senate for its intervention that was hoped would result in the payment of the N43 billion owed the State by Federal Government.
The Committee Chairman, Senator Gaya explained that the Second Niger Bridge was designed to be executed under a Public Private Partnership concessional arrangement with the Federal Government expected to bring 25% of the total contract sum and the investor, 75% and revealed that the Federal Government had released 18 billion naira in the 2016 budget and included the remaining balance of 13 billion naira in the 2017 budget estimate whereas the investor has not put in any money into the project.
He said the Senate will commence investigation into why the contractor reneged on its own counterpart contribution.
Senator Gaya commended Governor Obiano for his outstanding performance as governor of the State as well as his efforts at maintaining Federal Roads in the State and said the Senate is proud of his achievements and will support the state recover its debt from the Federal Government.
The state’s Commissioner for Roads Infrastructure and Furniture, Chief Law Chinwuba expressed hope that the visit would translate into visible efforts towards upgrading the poor Federal Infrastructure in the state which have caused Ndi Anambra untold hardship.