Reps Investigate N15trn Lagos-Calabar Coastal Highway Project

By Adedapo Adesanya

The House of Representatives has resolved to launch a comprehensive investigation into the controversial Lagos-Calabar Coastal highway project.

The green chamber of the National Assembly at its Thursday’s plenary initiated the process following the adoption of a motion of urgent public importance moved by Mr Austin Achado, a Benue lawmaker.

The second arm of the parliament directed its Committees on Works and Public Procurement to probe the project to ascertain if procedures were followed in the award of the contract.

The 700 km coastal highway, projected to cost N15 trillion, will go through eight states, starting from Lagos and terminating in Calabar, the Cross River State capital. However, the project has received much backlash with some claiming it is too expensive considering current realities.

Moving the motion, Mr Achado highlighted the potential gains of the road project but raised some concerns, focusing on the procurement process of the project, stating that it possibly violated the Public Procurement Act of 2007 and the Infrastructure Concession and Regulatory Commission Act.

“The Procurement Strategy may have violated the Public Procurement Act 2007, section 40(2) which requires that where a procuring authority adopts to use restrictive tendering approach, it should be on the basis that the said goods and services are available only from a limited number of suppliers and contractors and as such, tenders shall be invited from all such Contractors who can provide such goods and services,” the lawmaker said.

Mr Achado also raised concerns about the Engineering, Procurement, Construction plus Finance (EPC+F) funding model adopted by the government for the project, saying the funding model has not been approved by the National Assembly.

“The contingent liabilities accruing to the Federal Government of Nigeria on this project violate the Debt Management Office (Establishment) Act of 2023,” he noted while explaining the implication of the EPC+F.

He added that “section 22(3) of the Debt Management Office (Establishment) Act of 2023 states that the Minister shall not guarantee an external loan unless the terms and conditions of the loan shall have been laid before the National Assembly and approved by its resolution.”

The lawmaker urged the House to set up a special committee to investigate the project.

However, Mr Uyime Idem, an Akwa-Ibom representative, moved an amendment for the project to be referred to the Committee on Public Procurement, which he heads, explaining that his committee already received several petitions on the project. His amendment was subsequently adopted by the House.

Meanwhile, Mr Isiaka Ibrahim, a lawmaker from Ogun, moved an amendment for the House Committee on Works to be included. The amendment was also adopted.

The committees were then directed to summon the Minister of Works, Mr Dave Umahi, the Minister of Finance, Mr Wale Edun and the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Lateef Fagbemi, to ensure that all guarantees and credit enhancement instruments for the Lagos-Calabar Coastal Road Project are sent to the National Assembly for approval.

When the motion was put to a vote by Speaker Abbas Tajudeen, after the motion was amended, the majority of the members voted in support.

Back to top button