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FG knocks contractor on East-West Road after N33bn payment

The Federal Government has ordered the immediate suspension of reconstruction work at the Eleme-Onne section of the East-West Road in Rivers State.

The Minister of Works, David Umahi, disclosed this while speaking to newsmen in Port Harcourt on Sunday.

Umahi said the order became imperative following the use of sub-standard materials by the contractor handling the project.

The minister also expressed sadness over the slow pace of work even after the government had made an advance payment of N33bn to ensure that no sharp practices would be tolerated.

Umahi explained that the work had to stop pending when some irregularities concerning the project would be resolved, saying with the pace of work by the contractors the work could not be completed even if given five years.

According to him, “The project must benefit the people; the rainy season is coming in two months and the people will be subjected to suffering.

“You have our N33bn. Do you know what the interest rate is every month on the bill? The President had to order me in September to come here and ordered the payment because some Rivers State people went to see the President and we paid you N33bn, since that time till now.

“I saw that the sand they are using is not river sharp. What we paid for is river sharp sand.

“I’m not satisfied. The idea is that when you place the lumps, the lump is good. But when you place the river’s sharp sand there are some voids between the lumps.  And so the sand will go and fill it and it becomes a compact monolithic pavement structure. When I saw that sand I wasn’t happy.

“And I took that sand and put it on my palm and poured water and I was squizzing it, and at the end of the day, there was nothing left. That confirmed that it is very clear. So I directed that the company should be written and they should ensure that they remove the sand.

 “I was very shocked that instead of removing the sand they had continued with the sand. The contractor is carrying out the job but at a snail’s speed. If we allow him even another five years he will not finish. So we are not going to allow him.”

The minister, however, said he had scheduled a meeting with the contractor to look at the anomalies after which the errors would be X-rayed and a new timeline would be given to ensure the project was completed.

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