KWARA state government (KWSG) has admitted that the contract sum for the Ilesha Baruba – Gwanara road project was inflated by ₦751,551,647.22, this is coming eight months after the ICIR-funded report.
The government also set September as the new date for the project completion
In 2020, a Kwara-based civil society organisation Elite Network for Sustainable Development, ENetSuD, made contracts inflation allegation against the government through a memo sent to the governor, AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq.
However, the Ministry of works denied allegations through an official press release by the Commissioner, Rotimi Iliasu, which was also followed by denials on various radio stations.
Eight months after the investigations which found out that eight years after, controversy and inflation has slowed down Ilesha-Baruba – Gwanara road project, the government wrote to ENetSuD highlighting the various administrative steps taken to address the allegations, while noting that the Bill of Engineering Measurement and Evaluation (BEME) has been re-calculated.
The letter reads in part: “As an administration committed to deepening transparency and accountability, the Governor immediately ordered discreet investigations into the matter with a view of unraveling the truth in the interest of the public.
“These investigations involved two different panels: an intra-ministerial panel in line with the civil service rules and another one chaired by His Excellency, the Deputy Governor Mr. Kayode Alabi.
“The investigations involved an invitation to Sanisi Partnership Ltd, the consulting firm for the Ilesha Baruba – Gwanara road project since 2013, who was asked to give accounts of the contract to determine the veracity of the issues raised by your organization [ENetSuD].
“Guided by the May 26, 2021 expert opinion of the consultant who provided the updated BEME with which they are executing the contract, the two panels have established that the ‘Harmonized BEME’ given to you [ENetSuD] was indeed incorrect and full of errors.
“We concede that the misconception in the public about this issue was clearly borne out of costly errors and lack of due diligence by some officials of the Ministry of Works and Transport.
“It is important to inform you (EnetSuD) that a final memo on the issue dated April 12, 2022 has recommended appropriate measures to be taken concerning the civil engineering staffers involved in the preparation of the faulty BEME.
“Among others, the costly development, as you (EnetSuD) may be aware, has also since led to immediate retooling of the due diligence mechanisms of not just the Ministry of Works and Transport but other Ministries, Departments, and Agencies of Kwara State Government to prevent such flops in the future”, the government explained.
EnetSuD decry late response from government
While reacting to the latest development, the ENetSuD Coordinator Alagbonsi Abdullateef said the government response came late after 18 months of the initial allegation which prompted ICIR report.
He however said they are satisfied with the steps the government has taken.
He added that a lack of timely communication from the government to its partner in the social audit of projects will not help the government in its anti-corruption fight, as corruption can’t be fought in silence.
He said confidence-building is key to the success of any partnership in the public interest.
He added that the new BEME provided by the KWSG (which supersedes the faulty one earlier provided in error) will be used to do a technical evaluation of the project when it is completed, as the government reported the current status of the project as 71 percent.
“Similarly, as a show of good faith that this organisation has nothing against the government, ENetSuD would like to inform the public that the new BEME lays to rest any previous allegations of contract inflation in the BEME for Ilesha Baruba – Gwanara Road in Baruten Local Government Area of Kwara State,” Alagbonsi said.
Road will be completed in September – Works Commissioner
When the ICIR visited the site this June work has resumed different from the stage at the last visit.
The commissioner for works and transport Rotimi Ilyasu who spoke with our reporter during an inspection of the site said the current total of work done on the road is presently at 72 per cent.
He added that a total of 23 kilometers out of the 33 has been asphalted and efforts are ongoing to ensure that the job is completed in September.
According to him “we are looking at September 2022 at completing this road, hopefully the rains will allow for speedy work,” he said.
When asked about the challenges encountered, he says “no challenges whatsoever, except the price of materials that has skyrocketed. A tonne of asphalt when we started last year was 27, 000 naira but the same tonne is 60,000 naira, but we are looking at what we can do,” he said.
The Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Yakubu Danladi-Salihu, who is an indigene of Gwanara assured that the government is committed to completing the road as promised.
He said “What we met on the ground and where we are today is a great difference. This government is committed to deliver this road, it a promise to our people and the government is working to ensure the promise is fulfilled.”
“The government has just released another tranche of money to ensure the work gets done,” he said.
The Chairman of the Transition Implementation Committee of Baruten local government AbdulRasheed Ibrahim-Lafia said “We are very grateful that work is ongoing on the road and we believe it will be completed very soon.
“The major occupation of our people is farming and these farm produce needs to get to the market to boost the economic of activities of this area but the bad road has been major hindrance.
“I believe when this road is completed the economic activities of this area will be greatly improved which will in turn boost the economy of the state as whole, “he said.
A resident of Gwanara Ibrahim Mohammed who expressed happiness at the rate of work done, said when completed the road will improve the economy of the area.
He however appealed to the state government to expedite action on the construction.
“We are appealing to the state government to ensure the road is completed and we pray for Almighty Allah to continue to give them wisdom to continue to pilot the affairs of the state,” he added.
However, another resident of the area Musa Idris Buko, condemned the pace of work on the project, “The pace of work on the road is unimpressive. It seems very slow and not genuinely being executed to ameliorate the sufferings of the people, but to score political points. The non-completion of that road by Gov. AbdulFattah Ahmed’s administration earned the last administration the wrath of the people.
Collapsed bridge on the Nune river with the newly constructed one beside it Photo Credit: Dare Akogun