Minister for transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, has alleged that the Goodluck Jonathan-led federal government spent N34 billion for the dredging of River Niger, adding that the job was shabbily executed.
Amaechi said that the current administration is undertaking the same project at the cost of just N100 million.
The minister was quoted by The Nation newspaper as making the allegations at a conference organized by the newspaper in conjunction with the transportation ministry.
Amaechi reportedly said that the actual contract amount for the dredging of the River Niger as approved by former President Jonathan, was N47 billion but N34 billion was released to the contractor.
“When the River Niger was first approved for dredging by the previous administration, it was approved for N47 billion and N34 billion was paid to the contractor. Dancers were called in and there was a party,” Amaechi said.
“We are not dredging the River Niger with billions of naira; we are dredging the River Niger with just N100 million.
“When we flagged it off recently, did you see us dancing? Was there a party?
“I just went to see the governor and told him that the project will start today and will be finished in one month.
“The governor said he will accompany me, and I said ‘ok’. So, I asked the governor to flag it off since it’s located in his state.”
According to the report, Amaechi said many people doubted the possibility of seeing the dredging project through with just N100 million, explaining that the project was being carried out using dredgers belonging to the National Inland Waterways Authority, NIWA.
He said: “People are wondering how on earth we are going to dredge the River Niger for N100 million when the previous government awarded same contract for N47 billion?
“But we are going to dredge the River Niger, using dredgers owned by the National Inland Waterways Authority, NIWA.
“NIWA has dredgers, but the previous government preferred to give contractors money to dredge the river with private dredgers while NIWA’s dredgers were lying idle somewhere in Port Harcourt.
“The NIWA MD told me the agency has dredgers, but it’s been hired out to somebody in Port Harcourt.
“So, we had dredgers, but the previous administration hired them out to some persons in Port Harcourt while paying a contractor billions of naira to use privately owned dredgers at a very high cost.
“I told the NIWA MD that I will look for money to fuel their dredgers, and work has started. That is why we are dredging the river Niger with just N100 million.”