Drama unfolded yesterday during an investigative hearing by the House of Representatives Ad-hoc Committee, as DC Engineering Limited, a construction company, accused officials from the Federal Ministry of Works of inflating a road contract’s cost from N9.8 billion to an astonishing N54.3 billion.
The controversy revolves around the 41-kilometer Ijebu-Igbo Ita Ibadan Road, which has been stalled for over five years since the contract award. Concerns over the project’s delays led to the formation of an Ad-hoc Committee by Speaker, Rt. Hon. Tajudeen Abbas.
During the hearing, Engr. Ade Adedeji, the Executive Director of DC Engineering Ltd, revealed that the original contract stipulated a two-year completion timeframe. However, the Ministry of Works took five years (from 2018 to 2023) to disburse the 15 percent mobilization fund of N1.3 billion, attributing the slow progress to a lack of funds.
Adedeji presented documents, including the contract award letter, to support his allegation of inflation. He claimed that his company had requested a contract sum review to at least N14 billion due to rising material costs, but the Ministry refused. Surprisingly, the Ministry re-awarded the same contract to AREATECH Construction Ltd for N54.3 billion without terminating DC Engineering’s contract.
Engr. Adedamola Kuti, representing the Ministry, acknowledged the termination of DC Engineering’s contract in September 2022 but provided no explanation for not approving the requested sum increase. He promised to return with requested documents.
In a statement submitted by Solicitor Tolu Babaleye & Co on behalf of DC Engineering Ltd, the company alleged that Hon. Tolulope Akande Sadipe, a member of the House of Representatives, frustrated their project execution efforts and promoted AREATECH Construction Ltd for the contract.
Both Engr. Kuti and Sadipe denied any wrongdoing. The Ad Hoc Committee Chairman, Hon. Kwamot Bitrus Laori, assured that the committee aims to determine the cause of the project’s failure and the way forward without bias.
The confusion arose when DC Engineering Ltd’s Executive Director stated that the Ministry paid them a portion of the 15 percent mobilization fee just two weeks ago, contradicting the Ministry’s termination claim.
The Olojuoro Road Joint Communities Forum clarified that only DC Engineering Ltd’s equipment was on-site in July 2023, conducting what they termed “palliative work.”
Recent events indicate Minister of Works, Senator David Umahi, warned against irregularities during a meeting with contractors and ministry officials. The Public Complaints Commission’s representative blamed the ministry for the project’s delays.
Chairman Laori directed all relevant parties to submit required documents to the committee’s secretariat by September 11, 2023, as the committee adjourned sine die. The nation eagerly awaits further developments in this unfolding saga.