By Dayo Johnson, Akure
Respite seems not in sight for commuters plying the deplorable Akure/ Ado Ekiti highway, as the contractor awarded the N30b contract, three years ago, to fix the road, has instituted legal action against the Federal government.
The contractor, Dantata and Sawoe, has dragged the government to court for terminating the contract and rewarding the same to two new contractors.
Only N2b was said to have been released to the contractor out of the contract sum before it was terminated and re-awarded.
Former governor of Ekiti state, Kayode Fayemi, recently in an interview, confirmed that only N2b was released by the Federal government to the contractor
According to him “out of the N30 billion the road was awarded, the first year, 2021 or 2020, they gave the contractor N400m out of N30b. So, the contractor used the N400m to mobilise to the site.
” The Federal Government had refused to cede the road project to the affected states.
“I have spent the last three years on the subject of this road. I finally got them to award the dualisation in November 2019 at the cost of N30bn. To date, the contractor has only received N2bn.
Fayemi also said that himself and the Ondo state governor, Rotimi Akeredolu had jointly approached the Africa Development Bank (AfDB) to seek financial support for the road but their efforts were thwarted by the Federal government which insisted it was a federal road.
According to him ” If we had been given clearance to do the road and toll it, we offered to do that, but the FG refused.”
However, the Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola while speaking during an interview recently on the re-awarded contract, explained that the federal government engaged two new contractors after the initial contractor failed to secure the needed fund to prosecute the road project.
Fashola added that arrangements for alternative funds have been made in addition to the funding the government is getting from the SUKUK for the road.
For effective and efficient delivery of the road in record time, Fashola said that “each of the two contractors would work from the Ondo and Ekiti axis of the road.
” But, what I can say now is that the contract has been determined because we got SUKUK funding which the initial contractor could not access and we are using new contractors; we have also made alternative arrangements for additional funding.
“I want to appeal to commuters who use the road and of course, the indigenes of Ondo and Ekiti states to bear with us, we meant well and we wanted to give them a bigger and better road and they take time but we will get there.”
Meanwhile, while speaking in Akure, the Ondo state capital, on a radio programme, the Minister of State for Transportation, Prince Ademola Adegoroye, said that the court action instituted by the former contractor was stalling the take off of the project.
Adegoroye, during a radio interview, said that ” the reconstruction of the deplorable Ado-Akure expressway, ” has been awarded to two new contractors but the court action instituted by the former contractor has stalled the execution of the project.
He, however, assured that ” the crisis stalling the construction of the Akure-Ado Ekiti road will soon be resolved for the project to fully take off.
He noted that ” the Minister of Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Raji Fashola, SAN, is doing everything possible with other stakeholders to ensure that the project is not abandoned.
“I know how our people are suffering on that road. My mother is from Ekiti and my father is from Akure. So, I know how crucial that road is to our people in Ondo and Ekiti States. We are not relenting in our efforts on the road.
“Two days ago, I and the new Governor of Ekiti State, Mr Biodun Oyebanji, met and we discussed this issue. We resolved to meet with the former contractor in January to see how the issue can be settled out of court so that the project can take off”.
The deplorable condition of the road in the last few years has given commuters and residents of the two states a tough time accessing the states with several efforts to put the road in good condition all ended in failure.
Motorists plying the highway have lamented the deplorable state of the road, which they said, now takes between one and three hours, instead of the original 35/ 40 minutes, to commute between Ado-Ekiti and Akure.
They now take a longer route through Igbara-Oke to access the state. (Vanguard)