The Federal Government has ordered contractors handling the reconstruction work at the Eleme-Onne section of the East-West Road in Rivers State to stop work.
The order, which came through the Minister of Works, David Umahi, who spoke in with press men in Port Harcourt on Sunday is sequel to allegations that the contractors were using sub-standard materials for the project.
The minister who was addressing the press a day after he inspected the work, also lamented the slow pace of work even as the government had made an advance payment of N33 billion.
According to the Minister, the work is being suspended pending the resolution of some of the irregularities observed about the project. He said concerns are also rife that the work would not be completed within record time, considering the snail pace at which the current contractors are handling it.
“The project must benefit the people. The rainy season is coming in two months and the people will go ahead suffering. You have our N33 billion. Do you know what the interest rate is every month on the bill?,” the minister queried.
Continuing, he said, “The President had to order me in September to come here and order the payment because some people in Rivers State went to see the President and we paid you N33 billion, since that time till now. I am not satisfied.
“The idea is that when you place the lumps, the lump would be good. But when you place the 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 was very clear. So I directed that the company should be written and they should ensure that they remove the sand,” Umahi said.
He said, instead of removing the sand, the contractor continued with the sand.
“The contractor is carrying out the job, but at snail speed. If we allow him even another five years he will not finish So we are not going to allow him.”
He, however, said a meeting with the contractor has been scheduled to look at the anomalies after which the errors would be ex-rayed and the new timeline would be given to ensure the project is completed.