Umahi issues 14 days ultimatum to contractors to return to site

By Perpetua Onuegbu

The Minister of Works, Sen. David Umahi, has given contractors constructing federal highways 14 days to mobilise their personnel and equipment back to site or risk lossing their contracts.

The minister gave this warning during a meeting with all contractors handling federal roads on Wednesday in Abuja.

He warned that any contractor who fails to comply with the directive and meet up with the deadline would be kicked out and replaced with other contractors.

Umahi also told the contractors to desist from frustrating the plan of government to move on with the plan to use concrete technology rather than asphalt.

Stressing the need for concrete roads, he said Mr President did a concrete road in Lagos.

“He reminded me about this yesterday. I believe Nigerians will support us on the fact that when you do this asphalt there should be a guarantee on it.

“We have discussed the construction equipment and  directed that at least every 30 kilometres, there should be minimum of equipment of eight dossier.

“Two graders, four excavators, 20 trailers and other construction equipment in line with active site works operations. Nigerians should have one road that is very good,” Umahi said.

He added that ongoing plan to use concrete cannot be stopped unless he is removed from the office as a minister.

He vowed to clampdown on contractors cheating the Federal Government and Nigerians on the thickness of asphalt, denying them value for money.

“You contractors cheat us on the thickness of asphalt. The bitumen imported are of bad quality and then you start putting enhancer and modifier. We do not want that again, there is no such thing overseas. Use the type of asphalt used abroad.

“I believe I have called enough meetings on this issue and we must move forward. Let me advise contractors that are meeting and have ganged up. We have learnt that some of you want to sabotage me to prove that concrete is not good.

“That is a lie, concrete is very good. Go to Lagos sea port and see what the contractor is doing. Go to my state to see what I did. The roads are still there and very good on concrete.

“It is not useful to you because there is no meeting that wil make us back down on the principles and policy of the Ministry of Works. This policy has been set in motion and will only stop if I am removed from office by Mr President.

“Even this morning, the directors met and increased the price and I accepted it. The price is only for Trunk A. Trunk B and C will not enjoy that price because it is going to be on a different design,” he said.

He therefore urged contractors to stop harassing him with the price quotations saying that the Federal Government had set the price and would not go back on it.

The minister who accused some contractors of sabotaging his efforts to prove that concrete roads is bad to justify asphalt, further directed that any contractor with four projects would no longer be eligible to bid for any advertised jobs.

“Henceforth, any company that has four projects with the ministry of works will not get another project until it finishes the one awarded. Mr President just approved 60 projects and we will start the designing and the profiling.

“So if you can finish your jobs quickly, you will be part of the bidding but if you cannot finish your job, you cannot bid and we would not differentiate between expatriate and local contractors.

“The house must submit to the new policy of the Federal Ministry of Works,” he said.

Speaking further, the minister said asphalt roads would enjoy only five per cent variations.

“Also, let me announce that we are going to deploy strict measures. Every contractor going back to the site must give us a programme of work.

“The ministry would not process your certificate without a programme of work. Contractors that want variation of price must prove what basis led to an increase in contract quantity. Without these steps, there is no payment.

“Condition number two for the use of asphalt is the five per cent variation on price and if you have exhausted your 5 per cent already, You cannot enjoy another five per cent.

“Inflation on asphalt work is on geometric progression. Price is increasing every day and there is no money to pay for these increases,” Umahi said.(NAN)