Two years after, contractor of Calabar’s first flyover seeks payment
For many Calabarians, June 1, 2017 would not be forgotten in a hurry. It was the day citizens of the Cross River State capital thronged the streets in their thousands to give Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, a rousing welcome on his one-day visit to the state.
The visibly elated Osinbajo had to stop his motorcade along the Goodluck Jonathan Bye-pass and walked a few meters to meet the cheering crowd before stopping at the Federal Government Girls College, Calabar to greet hundreds of students of the college, who came out to catch a glimpse of his motorcade. The students not only shook hands with the Acting President, others got a warm embrace and an elder woman broke through the security detail to present Osinbajo with a rare gift of fresh vegetables.
Osinbajo came to town to perform the groundbreaking ceremony of Ayade Industrial Park Calabar and Cross River Rice City Project while inaugurating the Calabar Garment Factory, all situated inside the park.
All these were made possible due to the construction of the first flyover and interchange in Calabar by Sermatech Nigeria Limited. However, two years after the issuance of job completion certificate, the construction company is yet to be paid its contract balance.
The seven-kilometre dual carriageway, named Goodluck Jonathan Bye-Pass, which starts from the Atimbo roundabout and terminates at Lemna Road with a flyover and an interchange, has become the major evacuation route for industrial, commercial and private road users in Calabar.
The road also has 20 big companies asides from the Calabar Garment Factory, located in the new industrial park being built by the Governor Ben Ayade-led administration.
The road, which was constructed from the dense mangrove swamp, was the brainchild of the former governor, Senator Liyel Imoke, and was inaugurated by ex-President Goodluck Jonathan in January 2015. A civil engineer in Sermatech Nigeria Limited, Faith Bassey-Edet, lamented that the company’s fortune was dwindling due to its huge debt profile.
Edet, who spoke with journalists shortly after a tour of the busy route, said the company had already disengaged the services of majority of its foreign and local professionals. Giving an insight into the difficulties encountered in constructing the road, Edet said that about 3.1km of the road was a deep swamp with unstable soil of about 19 metres, adding that a lot of technical expertise was brought into play to ensure that standard was not compromised.
She, therefore, pleaded with Governor Ben Ayade to pay the money for the company to remain afloat. “We lost a whole year in to secure funds to complete the road. The contract was awarded in 2010 and completed in 2015. We brought in a lot of professionals to ensure that the job was properly done. Unfortunately, we have lost most of our workers because of paucity of funds.”
In a letter dated February 27, 2017 to Sermatech Nigeria Limited by the Secretary to the State Government, Tina Agbor, the government had acknowledged that it would pay the debt as soon as its financial situation has improved.