Umahi warns expatriate road contractors against ‘cheating, taking Nigeria for granted’

The Minister of Works, Dave Umahi, has warned indigenous and expatriate contractors constructing road projects across the country against substandard works.

The minister warned in Abuja at a meeting with contractors handling federal roads, saying sub-standard work was no longer acceptable.

Mr Umahi said most of the roads currently being constructed in the country could not last seven years after construction.

He frowned at how contractors “took Nigerians for granted” by constantly increasing the project’s cost and “cheating” the country through contract variation and using asphalt materials, which are subject to the international price of crude oil.

“Our expatriate contractors, this cannot happen in any of your countries; it cannot,” the minister said. “You feel you are doing us a favour; you are not doing us a favour; this is business, and this attitude must stop.”

He also decried Nigerians’ discomfort and pains while travelling on federal roads, saying he had to feel their pains when he travelled to Edo from Abuja.

“That is what we have been doing. I travelled from Abuja to Benin City through Lokoja; all the stretches of the road are on contract, ongoing. This is through the policy of the last administration, but how much of the roads are motorable?

“I travelled through the roads myself, and I shed tears for the kind of pains our people are going through.

“President Tinubu said I must travel through all the projects so that I will brief him on my experience and tell him the truth,” he said.

Mr Umahi further said he had stopped signing the funds for contractors seeking price variation of their contracts, adding that the president was unaware of such increases.

The minister debunked the claim that the cement price would go to N9,000 if the government starts doing concrete roads, saying that it was blackmail against him by the people who don’t want progress in the construction industry.

He criticised military officials for not supervising contracts as expected, stating that they had blood on their hands for the number of people killed in road accidents and those kidnapped.

“I am warning all directors to get your controllers back to work; I want to see all the roads motorable, trucks should be off the road, any road where trucks fall, I recall the director,” Mr Umahi warned.

The president of the Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN), Sadiq Abubakar, said the agency would follow up and engage with the contractors.

He complained that there was a lot of non-compliance on the aspects of expatriates’ engagement.


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