Nigeria (Blank NEWS Online) –By Albert OGRAKA:
Despite the huge number of recorded accidents and deaths on the Asaba/Ughelli road, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta state has appealed to Deltans to bear with his administration over the non execution of the abandoned Section C of the road, explaining that the contractor handling the section is presently engaged working on the runaway project at the Asaba Airport.
Okowa said the road dualization project would not be given any attention until the contracting firm, ULO completes the runway project at the Asaba Airport.
The Section C road project, spanning between Asaba and Kwale, which was awarded to Chief Uche Okpunor’s ULO Construction firm by the erstwhile Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan administration has not received any attention since it was awarded to the contractor.
The abandoned road project has caused a lot of vehicular mishap and nearly 100 deaths, prompting Deltans who are commuters and motorists to appeal to the state government for urgent intervention. One of such recent accidents claimed the lives of about 30 persons, including a Church Priest on the Ibusa/Ogwashi-Uku axis of the abandoned road project.
The hope of the road users, however was dashed when Governor Okowa, at a quarterly media interactive session with journalists in Asaba on Tuesday, February 07, 2017, told Deltans to exercise patience, as the contractor, ULO, who abandoned the the Section C road project, is presently executing the failed runaway project at the Asaba Airport which fell short of the specified standard of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).
According to the Ministry of Aviation then, the safety concerns were over undulations on the airport’s runway, the lack of the required strip, perimeter fencing, drainage, as well as lack of adequately trained technical personnel, leading to the eventual downgrading of the Asaba Airport.
Meanwhile Deltans had complained about the dangerous pot-holes at Ibusa (first junction from Ogwashi-Uku), Ogwashi-Uku and other bad portions of the road, leading to automobile accidents.
Recall that the Section B of the Asaba – Ughelli road project was completed under the Uduaghan administration while the Sector A faces funding challenges, which Governor Okowa confirmed that monies have been released to Wokson Nig. Limited, the contracting firm for Section A to enable them return to site.
As a result of incessant road carnages and in a bid to fast-track the haphazard construction of the 149 kilometres Asaba/Ughelli road, the former Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan ordered the state Ministry of Works to terminate section C of the project and re-award the contract to a competent contractor.
But to the chagrin of Deltans, Okowa, on resumption of office, Governor Okowa released the sum of N5 billion to Chief Uche Okpunor, the CEO of ULO Construction, despite his antecedent in executing shoddy jobs after collecting huge advance payments.
Notable among ULO failed contracts are the abandoned Section C of the Asaba/Ughelli road, the non motorable Maryam Babangida road, the fails runway at the Asaba Airport which led to its downgrading and the New Government House where the incident of falling tiles was recorded, which almost caused media embarrassment to the state governor.
Also, the Delta State House of Assembly, had during the 2013 budget defence by ministries and parastatals, directed the ministry supervising the dualization of the Asaba-Ughelli road project to recover the mobilisation fee paid to the contracting firm handling Section “C” of the project for non-performance.
It was alleged that the firm had converted the mobilisation fee paid it by Delta State Government for equipment procurement but Blank NEWS Online source disclosed that the state Ministry of Justice was already processing the documents towards the recovery of the fee.
Blank NEWS Online investigations have revealed that the contractors who handled the affected parts of the 149 kilometre road as Section A, is Wokson Nig. Limited, Section B is CCC Construction and Section C awarded to ULO Construction Company, a renowned building and structural firm.
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Nigeria (Blank NEWS Online) –
E.I.C: Albert Eruorhe Ograka