The construction of a road in Ogbo Street, Uhonmora-Ora, Owan West Local Government Area (LGA) indicated in the national budget as the constituency project of the lawmaker representing Owan West/East of Edo State, Mr Pally Iriase is currently generating controversies.
At issue, as with most constituency projects across the country, is the standard construction of the road, Saharareporters has found out.
The project, which was captured in the 2017 budget for N75 million, under Benin Owena River Development Association (BORDA), was awarded to CIMA Resources Nigeria Limited.
Although the 62-year-old Edo state lawmaker denied having any direct contact with the contractor, findings by this website revealed that the construction company is doing a shoddy job with substandard and inadequate materials.
According to Tracka, a project monitoring community, trouble started in March when it was noticed that there was no provision for drainage system on the road.
“In February during monitoring, we observed that the construction work had started, but there was no provision for side drainage” a Tracka monitoring officer had reported.
Following this discovery, the residents of the community demanded that CIMA resources contractors must make allowance for drainage on the road as the community is flood prone.
Owan West Local Government Area (LGA) is prone to flooding during raining season, therefore a well-constructed drainage system would ameliorate, if not totally solve the issue of the flood in the community, one of the residents told Saharareporters
Another resident who spoke with Saharareporters on condition of anonymity said rainfall of last few days had started washing away the surface of the ongoing construction.
“The construction of Ogbo road started about a few months ago. The contractors don’t even come every day. You only see them once in a while. The road they said they are constructing, rain is damaging it is already.
“This place is always flooded when it rains. The gutter and the road they are making cannot stand the level of the flood that we witness in this area. They are just packing red sand and using caterpillar to push the sand together.
“Since this work started now, we have been telling the contractor that this work will not last, but he said that it what they ask him to do,” he said.
The contractor, who identified himself simply as Engineer Omuo, told Saharareporters that he is working with the specifications given to his company.
He said; “we have the client, we have the consultant. The client knows what they want on a road and they have their specifications. They have series of engineering measurements… according to the document signed. We are working according to payment, not according to our own specification”.
When asked how much CIMA resources was paid for the project, the contractor referred our correspondent BORDA who gave the project to his company.
He further said that the Federal Government is aware of the company’s activities on the project. “Everything we are doing here is known to the client and to the consultant. It is what they ask us to do that we are doing. We don’t have any right to change anything here.
“The consultant designs the road and decide the merit. It is the approval given that the contractor will be working on. Contractors cannot do anything that is not written in the project. It is the specification. The areas that are in the document signed that the contractor will work within. The contractor cannot work outside the specification and the design given to him by the client or the consultant.
When Saharareporters recapped the contractor’s response to Mr. Iriase who nominated the project, he explained that the N75 million budgeted was not meant for construction of only Ogbo Street.
Saharareporters investigations had earlier revealed that the money was meant for construction of roads in Ukhianvbegbe, Ogbo and Ekhare streets in Owan West Local Government Area.
The lawmaker also said although N75 million was budgeted, the actual amount released was lesser.
He, however, refused to disclose the amount released for the project so far, insisting that only BORDA can give the exact amount.
“I nominated the project, but the project is not just for one road, it is for a number of roads. What is put in a budget is different from the budget performance” he said, adding that he does not know how much was released for the project, neither does he know the contractor.
He added that procurement is done by the nominated agency and “they are enjoined to manage what is available to the best of their ability and to the standard and quality that would enable the road to be okay.
“Initially, I am sure that he road was not designed to cover drainage. You can do a road and later come back to do the drainage but because we are in a rain forest area, we decided to go beyond the initial design to introduce drainage.
Hon. Iriase also confessed that he has not been to the project site and might not be able to comment on the quality of materials being used.
He, however, said that BORDA is responsible for monitoring the implementation of the project.
Furthermore, the Edo state lawmaker said another provision can be made for a better drainage system in the event that the current one gets damaged.
The team lead of Tracka, Mr. Ilevbaoje Uadamen, however, lamented high rate of poor execution of constituency projects which he ascribed to the low level of citizen participation in the implementation process.
He said; “one thing we observed over the years is that there is a low level of citizens participation in the budget implementation process, this is the reason their representatives are nominating projects in secrecy and implementing the projects to their own taste so that they can make more money from the project.
“When people are aware of the project they can own and ask the right question during the implementation level. Our work in Tracka is to reach out to the people in both Urban and rural areas, sensitize them on the budget provisions and encourage them to take ownership of constituency projects in their communities.
“This will help create more awareness and also increase more project implementation and making their representatives transparent and accountable for the delivery of public service”.
At the time of filing this report, Saharareporters could not reach BORDA to ascertain how much was released for the project.