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Contractors fault Federal Government’s work-in- progress claims on second Niger Bridge

PHOTO: NTA

Govt did not spend $2b on project
Juluis Berger Nigeria Plc and NSIA Motorway Investment Company Limited (JOB-NMIC), the contractors handling the second Niger Bridge have faulted Federal Government’s claims that work on the project was in progress.

The contractors noted that there was a discrepancy in the $2 billion the Federal Government claimed to have spent, a claim they said, was deceitful and unfounded.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo during the governorship campaign for the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Onitsha, Anambra State, had disclosed that the Federal Government paid the contractors $2 billion for work to commence on the bridge.

He said the release of the money was a fulfillment of the party’s electioneering promises in 2015, adding that government would leave no stones unturned to ensure the completion of the second Niger-Bridge.

The Guardian learnt that the contractors estimated the project to cost $700 million, an equivalent of N108 billion at the 2014 exchange rate of N154 to the Dollar.

Of the amount, the Federal Government had made a commitment to contribute N30 billion, representing 28 per cent, while the JBI-NMIC consortium would raise the balance for the construction, operation and maintenance of the Bridge and the adjourning roads of Phase One under a 25-year concession.

However, the Federal Government claimed to have contributed N18.31 billion out of N30 billion, comprising N8.464 billion from the SURE-P budget in 2014 and another $50 million from its Eurobond loan for the execution of the project.

The project has, however, generated more questions than answers with the contracting firms describing government’s claims as political.

Investigations revealed that the Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF) contributed N10.4 billion, which the Federal Government had disbursed, leaving a balance of about N7.94 billion of its contribution with the sponsors.

A supervisor with the Julius Berger told The Guardian that the Federal Government claim is political and unfounded, adding, for government to say that $2 billion has been expended on the project is not correct and there is no work going on at the site presently.

Efforts to get information from government officials on the present scope of work, sources of finance and completion schedules proved abortive as none of the officials were willing to provide the details.

But during a visit to Julius Berger Plc at their station in Onitsha, its Head of Media, Felix Duku, promised to get back but as at the time of filing this report, he did not reach back. The site had been overgrown by weeds.



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