The Federal Government has issued an immediate suspension order on the reconstruction work of the Eleme-Onne section of the East-West Road in Rivers State. This decision was announced by the Minister of Works, David Umahi, during a press briefing in Port Harcourt on Sunday.
Umahi cited the use of sub-standard materials by the contractor as the primary reason for this drastic measure. He expressed his dissatisfaction after personally inspecting the project site on Saturday, noting not only the inferior quality of materials but also the sluggish pace of the reconstruction work. This comes despite the government’s advance payment of N33 billion for the project.
The Minister emphasized that the suspension will remain in effect until various irregularities concerning the project are resolved. He expressed concern over the project’s completion timeline, suggesting that at the current pace, completion could take over five years.
Highlighting the urgency due to the upcoming rainy season, Umahi also pointed out the financial implications of the delay. He recalled that the President had ordered the release of N33 billion for this project following appeals from certain individuals in Rivers State.
During his inspection, Umahi discovered that the contractor was not using the specified river sharp sand but instead a lower quality alternative. This deviation from the agreed specifications could lead to structural weaknesses, as the sand plays a crucial role in ensuring a compact and monolithic pavement structure.
The Minister’s hands-on approach included a personal test of the sand, which confirmed its inferior quality. Despite instructions to the contractor to replace the substandard material, there was no compliance, further slowing the project’s progress.
Umahi announced that a meeting with the contractor is scheduled to address these anomalies. The goal of this meeting is to thoroughly examine the errors and establish a new timeline, ensuring the project’s timely and up-to-standard completion.