LOCATED along the Abuja-Lokoja expressway, Giri, an agrarian community about eight kilometres from Gwagwalada, is an urban slum.
In Giri, good roads, potable water and access to quality education are a mirage.
For years, the sorry state of Giri road had made life unbearable for the low-income residents who work in the city centres. Most have been forced to relocate to other neighbouring villages.
This road is important to residents of the communities because it is the only access to Abuja city via the Lokoja expressway.
About seven years ago, the Giri road rehabilitation contract was awarded, but the condition of the road remains deplorable. The investigation also reveals that the details of the road construction contract are shrouded in secrecy.
“We are tired every time we hear they have started work on the road, but in the end, the contractors will disappear, while the road remains in a pathetic condition,” Umaru Gidado, a resident of Giri town, lamented.
Many residents who spoke to this reporter narrated the ordeals they face daily on the road whose construction has lasted for more than seven years.
Another resident of Giri town, Muhideen, told this reporter that he has lived in the village for years, and the road has never been motorable.
He accused the authorities of a lack of empathy for the delay in completing the road.
“At a time, they tried to fix the road, but we don’t know what happened; the road has gone from bad to worst.
“We were happy when we saw little effort on the road, but it wasn’t for long. We are constantly dealing with very dusty and bad roads,” he said.
Another resident, Abdulkarim Mumuni, said several chairpersons of the local council had attempted to fix the road without success.
“The current chairman’s house is close to the road. Contractors were working on it at a point, but they left again, and we don’t know why.
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“Everyone has given up on the road, and only the Council people can say what is stopping the construction of the road. It is worse during the rainy season, Mumuni said.
Business owners lament
When this reporter visited Giri, it was observed that most of the roads in Giri town are not motorable, while the central road, which is the Giri road linking most of the streets, is in shambles.
Business owners continue to count losses as the road remains in a bad state, and people hardly stop by the roadside to buy anything.
“This is what we face every day on this road, it has always been like this, and it is affecting our business,” a roadside trader said.
Another resident who owns a shop on the road said, ” during the rainy season, it is terrible, and during the dry season, it is dusty. My goods are always covered with dust which affects my business.
“The bridge over there collapsed sometime this year, but thank God, they have fixed that one; if not, it would have been worst.”
Road awarded since 2015 – Audit report
According to the FCT audit report of 2019, the construction of the road was awarded to a contractor, Tinamat Biz Construction Ltd, for the sum of N157, 302,075,00 (One hundred and fifty-seven million, three hundred and two thousand, seventy-five Naira) in 2015.
Seven years later, the entire 1.6km road is still unpassable despite the payment of an initial N50,000,000 (fifty million naira) to the contractor in 2015, according to the Audit report.
The report further stated that the project was ongoing and at a 41 per cent completion level.
The 2019 report recommended that drainage be built to save the road from gully erosion and added that the contractor should be mobilised back to the site.
N157m To Be Spent On Giri Road, But N130m Was Allocated- Council Chair
In January 2015, the chairman of Gwagwalada Area Council, Abubakar Giri, disclosed that N130 million was to be spent on the construction of Giri township roads and compensation for some houses that had been marked for demolition in the area.
Giri, who spoke to reporters while inspecting some houses marked for demolition in the company of the contractor, Mathew Chikezie Ifenkwe and some council officials, said the road project had already been awarded to an indigenous construction company, Tinamat Construction Company Limited.
He said the council’s decision to award the township roads project was aimed at ensuring that residents of the area have access to a good road network, adding that with the influx of people into the community daily, it has become imperative for his administration to ensure good roads are provided to boost socio-economic activities in the area.
Giri said the council had already presented the award letter to the contractor.
“You know the Giri of yesterday is not the Giri of today, especially with the influx of people daily to seek for shelter, the council has always deemed it necessary to ensure that residents of Gwagwalada communities have access to the good road, but for challenges of funds we have been facing,” he said.
This differs from what the FCT audit report stated. The report noted that the contract was awarded for N157 million, and N50 million was paid as an initial payment to the contractor.
A Visit To Giri Town
However, a visit to the site in August 2022 showed that the road had been abandoned, and there was no sign of contractors working on it. No drainage was built, and erosion had eaten part of the road.
During one of this reporter’s visits to the town, he met some residents who complained bitterly about the delay in completing the road and lamented their daily sufferings on the road.
Contractor’s details on the CAC website
According to the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) dashboard, Tinamat Biz Construction Ltd, which won the contract, is based in Abuja and was registered on April 1, 2003, with registration number 476834.
It has No C13, Wuse Shopping Centre, Abuja, as its registered address and lists Mathew Ifenkwe as chairman.
Others listed as Directors are Uchechi M. Chikezie, Angel Ugochi Chikezie and Valerie O. Chikezie.
A Visit To The Traditional Ruler Of Giri
In a chat with The ICIR, the traditional ruler of the community, the Aguma of Giri, Musa Wakili, lamented over the deplorable state of the road. He said only the local council authority could explain what was delaying the completion of the road.
He noted that as the leader of the people in the community, he had tried to galvanise the needed support for the actualisation of the road.
According to him, “the chairman gave out the contract, and work started on the road, but he didn’t finish it until he left. Another chairman, Obama, came and still could not finish it, but the chairman who awarded the contract before is back in office now, and I hope he will complete it. The work started in 2015.
“The road is very important to the people here, it links Giri with some places, and the University of Abuja staff quarters is just behind here.
“When it rains, the road is not good, and my people have complained severally.
“It is an important project, yes, an important road. I am sure it will be completed,” the traditional ruler added.
He, however, said he did not have much information on why the road construction had not been completed but hopes the newly sworn-in chairman of the council would complete it.
A Search For The Contractor’s Office
A visit to the contractor’s office in Wuse to find out why the road construction had not taken off despite payment of an initial N50 million showed that no company of such exists in the address listed on the CAC site.
Other shopping centres around Wuse, FCT, were also visited in an attempt not to leave any stone unturned. Places visited include Wuse Shopping Plaza, Wuse Shopping complex and Wuse shopping Centre all in the FCT, but the said contractor’s office could not be located in any of these places.
For instance, at the Wuse Shopping Centre, shop 13C was occupied by a law firm and our reporter was told by the occupant that no name such as Tinamat Biz Ltd. existed within the complex.
A message was also sent to the company’s Chairman, Mathew Ifenkwe, on his Facebook and Linkedin accounts without any response.
Residents who spoke to this reporter said they noticed some construction work at the end of the road, but the construction stopped after some time.
FOI Request Ignored
A Freedom of Information (FoI) request was sent to the office of the Accountant General of the federation. In response, the office of the AG directed that the enquiry be forwarded to the Federal Capital Territory Authority (FCTA).
In compliance with the directive of the Accountant General office, an FoI request was sent to the FCTA to ascertain the state of the contract.
After the expiration of seven days, the request and a subsequent reminder were not responded to.
As of the time of filing this report, the FCT ministry has yet to respond to the request regarding the details of the contract awarded for the road and has also failed to give reasons for the refusal, as stipulated by the FOI Act.
The ministry violated Sections 1(1), 2(4), 4 and 5 of the Freedom of Information Act.
Section 1(1) states that “Notwithstanding anything contained in any other Act, law or regulation, the right of any person to access or request information, whether or not contained in any written form, which is in the custody or possession of any public official, agency or institution howsoever described, is established.”
Section 2(4) states that “public institution shall ensure that information referred to in this section is widely disseminated and made readily available to members of the public through various means, including print, electronic and online sources, and at the offices of such public institutions.”
Sections 4 and 5 of the FOIA mandates all public institutions to grant or give reasons for denying a request within seven days.
TheFoI Act, signed into law in 2011, provides that public institutions make public records and information more freely available and provide public access to public records and information.
A Visit To Gwagwalada Area Council Office
However, an attempt after two visits to the Gwagwalada Council Area office to see the Chairman was unsuccessful. On two occasions, this reporter was told the chairman was not available and was told to send a letter stating questions intended for the chairman.
An FOI request was sent in that regard, but still, there was no response from the chairman’s office.
The Council also violated Sections 1(1), 2(4), 4 and 5 of the Freedom of Information Act.