The Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing has called on indigenous contractors to boost their competence in line with the local content policy of the current administration.
The Director, Highways, South East in the Ministry, Mr Adetokunbo Sogbesan made the call on Thursday in Abakaliki during the ongoing media tour of federal projects in the South East.
Sogbesan said that local contractors had shown that their competence level was not far from their foreign counterparts, adding that their confidence only needed to be boosted.
The director said that the current administration initiated plans to use a reasonable quantity of local contents and resources both human and materials in execution of projects.
Inspecting a portion of the Abakaliki- Afikpo Road being executed by a local contractor, Sogbesan said that local engineers had acquitted themselves by doing an excellent job.
Also, the Federal Controller of Works in Ebonyi, Mr Olufemi Oyekanmi, expressed dismay that rehabilitation of the road had lasted for nine years as the contract was awarded in 2009.
According to him, the project was delayed due to non release of funds by the previous administration, while the project was initially awarded at N2.9 billion.
“This Abakaliki –Afikpo Road contract, is a rehabilitation contract that has lasted over nine years. It was awarded in May 2009.
“The problem was that at the inception of the project, it took the first two years to even pay advance and in subsequent years, there were no budgetary provisions at all.
“So the underlying problem was that there was no funding. However, in 2015 the budget took care of the inadequacies but it could not be solved at once,” he said.
The controller said that the contractor was paid everything he had generated at inception of the current administration and that was why the project had attained 90 per cent completion.
“The road is in two sections with the second being handled by a foreign contractor. The contractor was able to source funds elsewhere to complete the portion awarded to him.
“While we were waiting for funds from the Federal Government, the state government got an approval to handle about 14.5km of the road that was not captured in the original contract.
“So, the long stretch of the 52km Abakaliki – Afikpo Road is almost completed,” he said.
Oyekanmi said that the quality of the job was in accordance with the ministry’s acceptable standard.
“The quality of the job is the same with those of foreign contractors because the ministry has a standard that every contractor must comply with.
“I will only say that they are not as fast as their foreign counterparts. If you owe a local contractor for two months, they will likely stop work.
“The foreign contractors will likely source funds from other sources if you owe them,” Oyekanmi said.
The contractor, Mr Anselm Ijiebor said that they were happy to return to site for the completion of the project.
Ijiebor said that the remaining portion of the road would be completed in the next one month as soon as they got directives from the evaluation unit of the ministry.
“Before the commencement of this administration, we were owed N258 million but as soon as this administration came on board, the money was paid and we came back to site.
“This project is completely being handled by indigenous contractors. We have about 87 staff with five engineers,” Ijiebor said.