It was a rude shocked to members of Senate Committee on Federal Capital Territory (FCT) when the contractor handling Abuja rail project revealed that the former President Olusegun Obasanjo awarded the contract in 2007 with neither design no Memorandum of Understanding, MOU.
Project Manager of the company, Etim Abak, while briefing the committee about the development added that the contract was signed by the then FCT Minister, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai without design and MOU, saying it was carried out based on what he simply identified as conceptual design.
It was furthered revealed current governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, was said to have signed the contract based on uncalculated estimate.
The committee also uncovered that the contract, which stood at 60.67 kilometres, was inflated by ten million dollars per kilometres even as the length was later reduced to 45 kilometres without refund of the cost for the 15.67 kilometres dropped.
The committee after listening to explanation from the contractor, demanded the refund of the sum of 195,878,296.74 dollars, being the amount for the 15.67 kilometres cut out, from the Chinese firm, CCE, handling the project.
Abak while speaking said “The contract was awarded based on conceptual design and estimates were not properly done. There was no formal design submitted and rail bridges and crossover bridges were not captured in the contract, “he told the committee.
Chairman of the committee, Senator Dino Melaye, while speaking at the site, said his research showed that rail project was inflated by over ten million dollars per kilometre, wondering why such corrupt act was perpetrated by the handlers of the project.
While noting that the contract sum was 841.645,898 dollars and project completion period was 48 months while the scope of work was 60.67km standard gauge, with double railway tracks and associated permanent way within FCT, Melaye said the whole project was shrouded in fraud.
He wondered why the project, which length initially stood at 60.67 kilometres, was later reduced to 45. 245 kilometres without reduction in the cost of the project initially paid for.
‘Now, you have reduced the length of the kilometre standard gauge from 60.67 kilometres to 45.245 kilometres, meanwhile, there is no concomitant reduction if you juxtapose the length of kilometres and the reduction in terms of the cost.
“If we are to spend 841 million dollars for 60.67 kilometres and now you have reduced to 45.245 kilometres and the only reduction in terms of monetary value is from 841.6 million dollars to 823 million and with reduction of just about 17 million dollars, that to me is not commensurate to the reduction in terms of length, ” he added.
He spoke further: ” The Federal Government has so far invested 31.5 billion dollars and another 7.6 billion from the SURE-P fund and if you put these together, we have altogether 39.1 billion dollars invested in the rail project, leaving the balance of 113. 233,155.32 dollars.
“The sum of three billion dollars proposed in the 2016 national budget of the FCT for the rail project.
“If you look at this, I would want to say that I did a personal research and looked at rail construction of the same specifics, of the same technology across the globe and one cannot but complain that this railway project in Nigeria is on a very high side.”
He wondered why it was costing the federal government so much to construct a railway of just 45 kilometres unlike the construction of the same specifics across the globe.
He questioned the rational behind the government’s loan of 500 million dollars from Exim Bank of China for the project, saying the money the federal government had so far injected into the project was far enough to execute the entire project.
“From my own calculation, in fact, from my comparison with other rail projects across the world, the federal government investment in this project is enough to execute the project without taking a loan as high as 500 million dollars from China.”
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