By Kufre Etuk
Mr. Effiong Akwa, the acting Managing of Director Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, has been accused of allegedly stalling the completion of construction of maternity ward in the University of Uyo Teaching Hospital started by the commission since 2015.
Findings by Niger Delta Network, a civil society group who visited the project site, indicated that apart from several letters written by the Management of the hospital to the NDDC boss, Akwa has also refused to act on several recommendations by relevant departments within the NDDC for the project to be reassigned to a new contractor for completion since the contractor is no longer showing interest in the project.
Investigation carried out by Niger Delta Network came on the heels of the recent call by the Chief Medical Director, Prof. Emem Bassey for the interventionist agency to complete the maternity ward project.
The CMD , while celebrating his reappointment as the Chief Medical Director, had revealed that the only building that has been left unattended to, is a project that was instituted by the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
He said he had written series of letters to the Commission to return to the project and have it completed, but regretted that all efforts had not yielded results.
It was revealed that the project titled: “Construction of 2 – Storey Maternity Block For Pregnant Women/ Provision of Electricity Services and Standby Generator”, was awarded to Messrs EAC Construction Limited, Messrs Rose Udokang and Company as supervisor.
The status of the project shows that the project is fifty percent completed. The ground floor slab and block work have been completed; First floor suspended floor and block work completed; Second floor slab completed and Relocation of septic tank completed.
Speaking with the MD of Messrs Rose Udokang and Company, Mrs. Rose refused to comment on the abandoned project on the ground that the company was not the contractor but only supervised the project.
“I am not in authorized position to brief you on that matter please talk to NDDC. I was not even the contractor but a supervisor.”
But a source in NDDC who did not want his name mentioned, revealed the project was allegedly given out as political compensation to a politician who sublet it to another person to carry out the project.
“The contractor abandoned the project, he was not interested in the project. The relevant departments have made a recommendation to the acting Managing Director of the Commission to terminate the contract from the former contractor and rearward to another person since he is not forthcoming, but the acting MD has refused to act on the recommendation.
“Even the teaching hospital has also written to the acting MD and made similar recommendation but the MD has not rresponded”
He said the contractor, Messrs EAC Construction Limited, was invited for meeting with NDDC at different occasions to come and explain why he chose to abandon the project but he refused.
“As I am talking with you the project file is on the MD’s table.
“What we want the new Minister to do is to call the attention of the acting MD to the project because the relevant departments in NDDC are ready to act on acting MD’s instruction.
“The contractor had never showed up for one meeting with the NDDC officials. Part of what I see was that the job was given as a political compensation and even when he sublet the contract to another company, he never showed up in the project site for once. All what he needed was money and as soon as he collected money for the job done, he did not show interest again in the project.
“In 2015, NDDC didn’t use to pay contractors upfront but based on the level of work done in the project. So the first payment was made based on certain milestones achieved in executing the contract.
“After payment, the contractor was expected to use the money and complete the project but he refused to go on with the project.
“The contractor said he was not interested in the project. He only got what belonged to him and said he was no longer interested in the project.
“He even wrote to the bank to block the project account, it was at that point that NDDC called him for meetings but he refused to show up.”
Further findings by the Niger Delta Network showed that Messrs EAC Construction Limited was registered in November 8, 1975 with Corporate Affairs Commission.
The company, located at Oluwaleyimu Street, off Allen Avenue at Ikeja, Lagos State with registration number RC 16237, has Joseph U. Etiebet and Akon J. Etiebet as directors.
Effort to speak with either of the Directors was abortive as none of them could be reached.
However, background of the Project as provided by the works department of the University of Uyo Teaching Hospital indicated that the project commenced in 2015 following a response by the interventionist agency NDDC to ameliorate the challenges faced by the staggering number of attendee patients in the existing maternity ward.
“The expansive project on completion would provide support for the present location.
“The project was awarded to the contractor, Messrs EAC Construction Limited under the able supervision of Messrs Rose Udokang And Company. Work had been satisfactory until an indefinite abandonment of work on the project for over a period of four (4) years. On enquiry, it was reported that the principal contractor, Messrs EAC Construction Limited, showed no interest or support towards continuation of the project despite the passion exhibited by their supervisor during execution. Messrs Rose Udokang And Company had since informed hospital manangement that several attempts had been made by different departments to encourage the continuation of the project to no Avail.”