House plans probe of sale of power assets, others

15 October 2015, Abuja – The House of Representatives at plenary on Wednesday passed resolutions to open investigations into the award of contracts for the rehabilitation of railways between 2010 and 2014, the construction works and lack of facilities at Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu, and allegations of fraud in the sale of power assets by the Bureau for Public Enterprises (BPE).

*House of Representatives.

*House of Representatives.

Hon. Solomon Ahwinahwi (Delta PDP) in a motion titled: ‘Need to Investigate the Federal Ministry of Transport and the Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC) on the Award of Contracts for Rehabilitation of Railway Tracks, Maintenance of Bridges and Procurement/Rehabilitation of Coaches and Locomotives from 2010-2014,’ alleged that the over N18 billion expended so far to upgrade the railway system is not justified as the locomotives that ply the tracks are old models.

He cited the contract figures for various railway routes with the money released so far.

The contract sum for the 463km Port-Harcourt – Markurdi Rail Track Rehabilitation was almost N19.9 billion, out of which the sum of N9.6 billion has been released even though 400km is still undone, while $841 million Abuja-Kaduna rail project, for which the China EXIM Bank provided a loan of $500 million, is only 25 percent completed, even though it was expected to be completed in 2014, he noted.

“The Jebba-Kano track has a total contract sum of N12,169,237,337 with payments so far being N10,337,023,111 without any appreciable work done…Zaria to Kaura track with total contract sum of N3,206,241,650 and payment of N1,147,471,038 made without any commensurate work done,” he alleged.

Ahwinahwi further alleged that the contract for the procurement/rehabilitation of wagons, coaches and locomotives were awarded at N6.5 billion with N4 billion paid so far.

The track rehabilitation consultancy fee was N1.48 billion with payment made so far being N718 million…Kuru to Maiduguri track rehabilitation project was awarded at N23.7 billion with payment made so far being N6.5 billion.

The House granted his prayers to set up an ad-hoc committee to investigate the contracts.

The House also mandated its Committee on Aviation, when constituted to investigate the quality of work done at the Akanu Ibiam International Airport runway and the absence of a navigational lighting system and other defects at the airport.

Hon. Toby Okechukwu (Enugu PDP) in his motion, noted that the runway at the airport was reconstructed between 2010 and 2011 at the cost of over N4.5 billion.

He, however, expressed worry at the quality of work and the diligence put into the construction of the 3km runway, which he described as degraded and dilapidated leading to potholes in many sections.

Okechukwu disclosed that while the construction of an additional terminal is ongoing for increased traffic to the airport, the dilapidation of the runway exposes passengers and airplanes to avoidable risks.

Similarly, the House also passed a resolution for the constitution of an ad-hoc committee to investigate the processes and sale of all aspects of power assets in Nigeria by the BPE.

The ad-hoc committee is expected to determine if there were malpractices and misconduct in the exercise and also whether appropriate value was had for money, and determine if any person breached the rules and the law.

The committee would also recommend changes in the process of sale of government assets and any changes in existing law.

The resolution followed a motion sponsored by Hon. Chike Okafor (Imo APC) who alleged that there was a lack of due process in the alleged payment of $23million to Canadian firm, Manitoba Hydro International, to manage the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) for three years.

He also expressed worry that the sale of the power distribution utilities was marked by a lack of transparency in bid awards in the three sectors of generation, transmission and distribution, “as it was alleged that the preferred bidders who were selected had low capacity and lacked technical knowledge in the sector, and also had little or no financial and managerial know how to run power companies.

“The lofty goals of privatization was marred by the sale of the sector to preferred bidders that could not pay the bid value on sale, instead the BPE encouraged the deferment of payment and restructuring of payment terms in contravention of bidding rules to the disadvantage of the other bidders,” Okafor alleged.


– This Day

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