Curbing contract variation: Every road project can be within 2-year budget cycle – Umahi

THE Minister of Works and the immediate past Governor of Ebonyi State, Dave Umahi, said contract variations and 20 years tenure for a single road construction are key factors that drag construction business in a developing economy.

Umahi, who spoke in Abuja on August 24, 2023, in a monitored broadcast at Channels Television programme, said his tenure would not tolerate longer tenure for road constructions, as they serve as a foundation for contract variations and price inflation.

According to ‘pocketlaw’ , a contract variation agreement is an agreement used to amend or vary the terms of a existing contract by mutual consent of all parties to the original agreement.

“Some roads have been ongoing for the past 20 years, some 12 years and the minimum of what I saw while taking brief from respective departments and agencies of the government. This is not a good development.

“In taking a brief about the Ministry, I discovered that some projects still undergoing construction have gone bad. This is a big problem for us, especially when we don’t have funds for road construction, “he said.

He suggested ‘project phasing’ as a way of averting the incidence of contract variations and delays.

“Every road project can be within a budget cycle of two years. It is a win-win situation for both the contractor and the federal government. We must not award 130 kilometres of roads in one fell swoop when we are not sure of the funds availability.”

Umahi, in seeking for a long-lasting panacea for road construction, advocated for concrete-constructed solutions, which, according to him, has a 50-year life span, unlike asphalt-constructed roads with seven years life span.

“In Ebonyi, I did 3500 Kilometers of roads in the state with the concrete technology. We signed undertakings with the African Development Bank and the World Bank, who supported us on the life-span of the roads.

Commenting on the need to engage direct labour and use local Engineers, the Minister said he has directed the Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA) to engage local engineers and build their capacity.

    “The young Engineers we shall engage will pay tax to the government and would help the country be a construction hub,” he said.

    Available reports estimated that there are 56,000 abandoned projects in Nigeria.

    According to research by the Nigeria Society of Engineers, since 1960, two-thirds of very large projects have been abandoned.

    A total of 11,886 federal government projects have been abandoned in the past 40 years.

    Harrison Edeh is a journalist with the International Centre for Investigative Reporting, always determined to drive advocacy for good governance through holding public officials and businesses accountable.

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