A road awarded and supervised by Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Water Resources has begun wearing off less than one month after it was completed, as observed during project tracking.
Under the deal, Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Water Resources awarded the construction of a 1.3km Road and drainage in the Angwan Soso community of Gwagwalada Area Council, Federal Capital Territory to MSSRC MC Billing Nigeria Limited.
On a visit to the project site, community residents disclosed that the contractor delivered the road in less than three weeks. But, are worried that it began wearing off less than one month after it was completed with some portion already undergoing maintenance to save it from further deteriorating.
This is even as the community residents pointed out that the road will play a vital role in boosting the local economy as farmers will have an access road to transport their farm produce to the market to be sold.
Worse still, checks on MSSRC MC Billing Nigeria Limited show they are not on the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) database. An indication that shows the company may be fake and does not exist.
It is unclear how the Water Resources Ministry awarded a contract to a company without carrying out due diligence to check its legal status and existence with the CAC, a company that registers companies and keeps their records.
An action that shows the Water Resources Ministry may have engaged in a breach of procurement laws and procedures in the selection of bid and contract award.
The Federal Ministry of Water Resources has a core mandate to provide access to sustainable safe and sufficient water to meet the of all Nigerians. However, it is unclear how a ministry that has no mandate and capacity to engage in road construction is seen to be doing so when Nigeria has the Federal Ministry of Works that is charged with the responsibilities of road construction.
In a situation where a ministry is allowed to undertake a job that is not its mandate, there is the likelihood of having quack delivery. And, this kind of practice appears to be common in Nigeria where government agencies are often seen to be taking up roles that are not theirs. And, this explains why there are poor and substandard projects that are littered in many parts of the country. Often, quality delivery is not considered in project delivery, rather vested interest and kickbacks play dominant roles in contract awards in Nigeria. This has become a practice that dominates the procurement process and contracts awards, and that breeds corruption.
Mr. Sam Ogala, a senior Lawyer at the Femi Falana Chambers, reacting to the practice of giving jobs to ministries and Agencies that are outside their mandate, says although that is not a good practice, he however, pointed out that there are no legal implications to that effect. Fulfilling the contractual obligation is what matters he said.
“Come to Lugbe and see how Nigerian Port Authority is the one installing Solar Street Light, a job that is completely outside their mandate, Nigeria is such a funny country,” Ogala said.
Mr. Ephraim Ibiam, a civil engineer, who claims to have handled road construction and building in many parts of Nigeria, while speaking at his Anambra Crescent Maitama office, said construction of a kilometre road cost about N300 million and pointed out that no engineer will construct 1.3 kilometres road for N51 million.
“At the moment, it cost an average of N300 million to construct one kilometre road, I do not understand how anybody can construct 1.3 kilometre road for N51 million. That amount cannot do any quality road I can assure you” Ibiam said.
When the Water Resources Ministry was asked using the Freedom of Information (FOI) request through the office of the Permanent Secretary, to provide the project contractual details, procurement process, and payment to the contractor, they declined.
However, a senior staff of the Ministry, who spoke and wants her identity concealed, accused the Ministry of breaching procurement laws in bids selection and contract awards.
“I do not know how you want me to explain it to you, but in the Water Resource Ministry, contracts are awarded based on ethnic consideration and entrenched vested interests,” the senior official said.
“One area the Nigerian anti-corruption agencies must focus huge attention is on procurement process if the country wants to reduce corruption” and deploy resources judiciously, the official added.