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Minister disputes Atiku’s claim on Lagos-Calabar Highway project costs

David Umahi Defends Cost and Procurement Process Amid Controversy

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The Minister of Works, David Umahi, has refuted claims made by former Vice President Atiku Abubakar regarding the cost and procurement process of the Lagos-Calabar coastal highway project, asserting that the government is constructing the highway at a significantly lower cost than alleged.

Umahi addressed the issue during an appearance on the Television Continental News Hour programme, where he clarified that the project is being executed at a cost of N4 billion per kilometer, contrary to Atiku’s assertion of N8 billion per kilometer.

Responding to Atiku’s questioning of the project’s procurement process, Umahi dismissed claims that the contract was awarded without due process, explaining that it was awarded on a counter-funding basis, not as a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) as suggested.

While Atiku had raised concerns about the transparency of the project, Umahi assured that the ministry is committed to prudence and promised to disclose the true cost of the project. He emphasized that despite the rising costs of construction materials, the ministry is dedicated to efficiency and cost-effectiveness.

Umahi also clarified that the project is expected to be completed within eight years, utilizing concrete pavement on the four-lane carriageway. He highlighted the significant differences in costs between the methods used by the government and those assumed by Atiku.

Furthermore, Umahi addressed discrepancies regarding the procurement process, stating that the project was never intended to be a PPP but rather an Engineering, Procurement, Construction, and Finance (EPC+F) initiative. He clarified that the administration is required to provide counterpart funding for the project, as seen in similar initiatives like the Abuja-Makurdi road project.

Contrary to claims made by Umahi during the unveiling of the project design in 2023, where he indicated that the project would be funded under a PPP model, he clarified that the construction company, Hitech Construction, was invited based on their expertise and that there was no public bidding process.

Umahi emphasized that the procurement process followed all necessary regulations and approvals, including review by the Bureau of Public Procurement and the Federal Executive Council, ensuring transparency and accountability.

In light of the ongoing controversy surrounding the project, Umahi’s statements aim to provide clarity and address concerns regarding the cost and procurement process, reaffirming the government’s commitment to accountability and efficiency in infrastructure development.

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