A major road project in Adamawa State, which when completed will provide access to goods and services for thousands of people, is yet to be completed 14 years after the contract was first awarded.
The Maiha-Fulbere-Zhedinyi-Pella road project including two bridges was awarded to A.G. Vision Construction Nigeria Limited in 2007 by the Murtala Nyako administration with a completion period of 24 months. The road, when completed, will provide access to transportation of goods and services between many villages in Hong and Gombi local governments and parts of northern Cameroon.
The contract for the road was initially awarded for N2.9 billion, before it was increased to N7 billion on August 3, 2017, and then to N8.2 billion.
The construction of the road is also expected to boost commercial activities between Nigeria and Cameroon.
Despite its bad state, the road served as the only alternative route for people who escaped from the conflict zone when Boko Haram insurgents captured Mubi, the second largest town in Adamawa State, in November 2014.
Officials blame the Boko Haram insurgency and inadequate funding for the non-completion of the road, but the current government in Adamawa says work has continued there.
“When we came on board, we realised that there were lots of encumbrances around the contractual process, we had to sit down again for a very long time with the contractors, going forth and back.
“We ended up agreeing on terms that made them mobilise back to the site. Now, they have mobilised to site on Pella-Maiha road and they are doing good work,” the Adamawa State Commissioner for Information, Umar Pella, said.
However, findings by this reporter show that the construction company has again halted the work.
“Governor Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri is trying to do his best. He asked us to go back to the site that we will be doing the work, he will be paying us as work progresses, which we have resumed from the end of the project at Mararraban-Pella.
Engr. Francis Musa Dzarma
“We did a solid job up to Pella, but unfortunately nothing was forthcoming from the government as the payment and the company relaxed a little,” Francis Dzarma, an engineer with the construction company, said.
Residents say the non-completion of the road is affecting their daily operations. They urged the government to complete the road.
“You can see that they have again suspended the work. We are told that the government has not played its part based on the present arrangement of the contract,” a resident, Usaku Sanda, said.
The contract for the road was initially awarded to A.G. Vision Construction Nigeria Limited for N2.9 billion in 2007, the first year of the Murtala Nyako administration. Ten years later, on August 3, 2017, the administration of Governor Bindo Jibrilla increased the contract sum to N7 billion and later to N8.2 billion.
However, the construction company says it has only been paid N5.2 billion of the contract sum which is commensurate to the work it has done.
“The previous regimes in the state had given us N5.2 billion, work had started but we later abandoned it during the Boko Haram insurgency, though, the amount paid to the company is equal to the work executed before the abandonment,” Mr Dzarma said.
Checks by this reporter show that between 2015 and 2020, the government budgeted N1.78 billion to construct the road. In 2015, N900 million was budgeted. Nothing was earmarked in 2016 and 2018, N13.3 million was budgeted in 2017, N250 million in 2019 and N500 million in 2020.
However, the budgetary provisions in those years were not cash-backed and the sums of money were not paid to the contractor.
Communities along the road have expressed divergent views on the project; while some are happy with the resumption of work, others are worried about the delay in the completion of the project.
Saleh Mamman Daksiri District Head Pella
The district head of Pella, Saleh Daksiri, said the re-commencement of the project has an impact on his communities as people patronizing food vendors have increased with the number of labourers employed by the company.
“With the patronage of the road by motorists, food vendors, suya sellers, tea sellers and beverages are getting more customers,” he said.
Mr Daskiri, who also holds the title of Dan Kade Adamawa, added that residents should ensure that the already constructed portion of the road is maintained.
“People should maintain the road and avoid burning tyres on the road and blockage of drainages with refuse. The government has done their part for constructing the road for us, we should play our part too by maintaining the road,” he said.
Another resident, Bala Mohammed, said people are happy that work on the project has resumed after years of abandonment.
Machinery parked after abandoning the project
“With the deployment of machinery and manpower by the contractor, we hope that the road will be completed now, but too slow for my liking,” he said.
Another resident, Hassan Umaru, also said “the work is in progress, though some maintenance work needs to be done as some portions of the asphalt laid are showing signs of cracks.”
Construction firm responds
A.G. Vision Construction Nigeria Limited, the firm handling the project, said the contract suffered setbacks due to the activities of Boko Haram.
“The contract suffered during the Boko Haram activities and the work was abandoned. But the level of work as at now on the road is: lead structures 85 per cent completion, surfacing almost 45 per cent, asphalt, out of 39.75 km, we have 18.5 km asphalt work.” Mr Dzarma said.
Part of the road constructed with Asphalt
According to him, so far nothing has been paid to the company by the current administration of Governor Umaru Fintiri and thus the company halted the work after putting two kilometres of asphalt on the road.
Mr Dzarma stated that his firm has a cordial relationship with the benefiting communities, attributing it to the role played by traditional rulers in the area.
“I have to commend traditional leaders that the road passes through their domains to ensure there is no crisis between the communities,” he said.
Mr Pella, the Adamawa information commissioner, blamed past governments for the non-completion of the road.
“If you remember, the road project at a time became moribund. If you remember, these were the first two projects that were flagged off by Gov Nyako during his first tenure and up to now, it is sad the work has not been completed.”
He said the current administration is committed to completing the road project.
“As a government we are committed not only to initiating and completing our own projects, but also completing every project that has been abandoned by our predecessors.
“We realise that if we improve on infrastructure, it can attract investment into the state and that is the basis for the level (of infrastructure) you see at the moment,” he said.
Mr Pella added that the Adamawa State Executive Council presided by Governor Fintiri has approved over N56 million as a consultancy fee for supervision, towards the completion of Pella-Maiha road.
“Government has decided to engage Mssrs A4 Associates Limited to monitor and ensure timely delivery of the project with quality standards to promote access to rural areas in the state.”
“The lingering road project which was awarded in 2007, but abandoned by the successive administrations in Adamawa will soon be completed for use,” he said.
This story was produced as part of the Udeme project, a Social Accountability and Transparency Project of the Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism (PTCIJ). The content is the sole responsibility of the author and the publisher.