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Reps to probe award of Lagos-Calabar highway contract

Lagos Calabar road Lagos Calabar road

The house of representatives has resolved to investigate the procurement process in the award of the Lagos-Calabar coastal highway contract.

The lower legislative chamber passed the resolution during plenary on Thursday, following the adoption of a motion sponsored by Austin Achado, a lawmaker representing Gwer east/Gwer west federal constituency of Benue.

The green chamber asked David Umahi, minister of works; Wale Edun, his finance counterpart; and Lateef Fagbemi, attorney-general of the federation (AGF); to furnish the national assembly with “all guarantees and credit enhancement instruments” for the Lagos-Calabar coastal road project.

The federal government recently commenced the construction of the 700km Lagos-Calabar coastal road — which is expected to run through the shoreline of beach resorts in Lagos, while traversing eight other states.

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The project, expected to cost N15.6 trillion, has sparked controversy, with some Nigerians questioning the transparency of the contract award process.

Atiku Abubakar, former vice-president; and Peter Obi, ex-presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP); have been some of the most vocal critics of the project.

‘PROCUREMENT PROCESS VIOLATES LAW’

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While moving the motion, Achado said the “award strategy” of the road contract violates the Public Procurement Act 2007.

“This laudable project with the prospect of providing easy access for movement of goods and services across the nation, has a financing structure, as announced by the honourable minister of works, which requires the federal government to provide 15 percent to 30 percent co-financing, while the private sector counterpart will provide the balance,” the lawmaker said.

“And to toll the road when completed for a minimum period of 15 years to ensure full recovery of all debts and equity applied for the delivery of the project. 

“There are concerns that the Procurement Strategy may have violated the Public Procurement Act 2007, section 40(2) which requires that where a procuring authority adopts to use restrictive tendering approach, it should be on the basis that the said goods and services are available only from a limited number of suppliers and contractors and as such, tenders shall be invited from all such contractors who can provide such goods and services.

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“The procurement strategy adopted by the federal ministry of works for the award of the contract violates the Infrastructure Concession and Regulatory Commission Act 2005.

“Section 4 of the Act outlines that all approved infrastructure projects and contracts for financing, construction and maintenance must be advertised for open competitive public bid, in at least three national dailies, and section 5 of the Act further clarifies that any direct negotiations with only one contractor could be allowed, only after exhausting the provisions of section 4.”

Contributing to the motion, Unyime Idem, chairman of the committee on public procurement, said parliament has received several petitions demanding the investigation of the procurement process of the project.

The motion was adopted when it was put to a voice vote by Tajudeen Abbas, speaker of the house.

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Consequently, the lawmakers mandated the committees on public procurement and works to investigate the matter, and report back within four weeks for further legislative action.

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