The Said 97% Statistics Of Failed Road Projects Absolutely False, Mere Fallacy



…Several Ongoing Road Projects To Be Completed After The Rain


Mr Ephraim Inyang-Eyen, the Commissioner for Works in Akwa Ibom state is a cerebral, hardworking and focused public servant with a knack for positive results in all his undertakings. Inyang-Eyen in this interview with Crystal Express speaks passionately on his assigned task as the armour-bearer for the governor in the road infrastructure sector. He took the opportunity to make clarifications on issues in the public domain concerning some road projects about his Ministry. He also spoke on Governor Emmanuel’s commitment to developing Akwa Ibom and offering the best quality and time-tested Road Projects. Excepts

It was widely reported that 97 per cent of the roads undertaken by Gov. Emmanuel’s administration through your Ministry has failed. What is your take on this?

The information is absolute false, mere fallacy and far from being correct. I am ready to take the media around our road projects to prove what I am saying. The member representing Mkpat Enin State Constituency Mr. Victor Ekwere was sponsored to say those things. I will also prove him wrong. The Awa – Ikot Etim-Ikot Emem- Ukam Road does not stop there but has a spur to Assong my village. I will be an irresponsible person to be part of a road contract that criss-crosses my village and which will collapse after just one year, when the maximum I can be a commissioner for works will be till 2023. So what will I tell my conscience and people? I discovered in the course of constructing that particular road that the rain water was sipping into the Asphalt intermittently which will create gaps and cause problems. I saw this problem with my team before the commissioning of that project.

The Governor had told me during commissioning of the road that moment after the event that I should call on the contractor that executed the job to clean up the road. I called Kamal on the matter and he accepted responsibility at no cost to government. The same firm is handling the 13.9 kilometre Awa-Nkana Road and the job has reached the stone base level. But anytime the road is ready for asphalting, it rains torrentially and takes 2-3 days for the water to drain out. The last time we went on that road two weeks ago, I advised them to wait till December before laying asphalt to avoid the rains.

If you go round the state, you will see that there are several roads nearing completion but only awaiting asphalting until after the rains. I accept responsibility as the supervisor of Awa-Ukam Road. Mr. Victor Ekwere is just being funny and does not even know the challenge. If you come to my office, I will show correspondences with the contractor who accepted to take responsibility. Therefore the issue of one failed road out of many and for which the contractor has taken full responsibility of the failure doesn’t account that 97 per cent of all the roads done in the state have failed as he claimed. I have earlier ordered all the contractors to suspend earth and asphalt works across the state because of the volume of rain fall we have now does not allow us to have the benefit of getting this road done as at when we want it. For example in Eket, after surmounting the problem of buildings around the roundabout and the post office, not much progress has been made because it rains everyday in Eket.

When I went to Oruk Anam Local Government Area about a month ago, you heard about the much talked about artificial rain, I didn’t create it, the contractor of the project stood in front of me and camera and stated that the challenges on the road construction there, apart from kidnapping, is that once the weather is clear, he mobilizes to site and once work commences, heavy down pour he described as artificial rain will come and force them to stop. But people out of unnecessary excitement blew the statement out of proportion. The Ministry of Works is supervising Uyo-Ikot Ekpene Road and nobody has seen an error from the once controversial project. They are supervising Ikot Oku Ikono flyover, Etinan- Eket Road that was abandoned and others. If out of 57 roads that we are working on and one has problems, does that account as 97 per cent failure? That was a selfish report that was alerted by him for whatever reason.

Victor and co travelers are very wrong on their assertions. The Okopedi- Uya Oron Road was one challenge I have been trying to overcome, I ordered Renaissance Construction Company out of the road because of poor quality job. I sent Sealand Construction firm out because poor quality job and I have been fighting DPL who are yet to meet the people’s expectations. Therefore it is wrong for somebody to come out and accuse the Ministry of negligence because we know what is good for our society and have been championing quality jobs.

People should raise issues on substances or facts. A House member cannot individually do a report and sign alone without recourse to committees on Works or Finance and Appropriation which would have come together and visit the project as team. I believe Victor Ekwere acted out of malice and what he did was sponsored. In the House of Assembly, nobody functions as individual talk less of endorsing a report. He was talking about a road the Ministry has since directed the contractor to intervene and the man showed willingness. It is sad Ekwere personally wrote such a report and made it public. The Appropriation Committee on which he is a member never had the privilege to see that report. As far as am concerned, that report from him should be thrown into the dustbin. No politician in Akwa Ibom State can just wake and say that everything Governor Udom Emmanuel has done has failed.

The Nto Edino- Enwereazu Road being handled by Sayang Construction Company has not failed as alleged. We never told anybody that the road is completed. We are yet to do the final asphalt wearing on that road. What people are driving on is what we call the binder course. It is like in Ini Local Government Area where we directed the contractor to concentrate on the bridge till when he have sufficient sun to do the final wearing course because what people are driving on now is binder course which is not the final course of asphalt and some people are running their mouths that the road has failed. It is unfortunate that we now have a system that spreads hate and insults on decent people.

There are projects belonging to the Federal Government that have failed but these same people are afraid of saying it because they will be called to explain.

Let me take you a little back, few days to the commissioning of Exxonmobil Road in Ibeno in which the Governor took a loan from the United Bank for Africa to execute, the Ministry of Works discovered that there was clay deposit on a portion of the road and we cordoned off the place and will build a bridge across it. If we had kept quiet and left the clay deposit on that road, it will probably fall after few years but we cut it off to show how proactive we are in responding to such issues. We do not necessarily need to go about making noise.

The road done by Benest Technical Services Ltd was not a trunk a road but today the road has so much traffic with heavy duty trucks plying it because the Abak-Ekparakwa Road has failed and the Federal Government is yet to act. People are not talking about that one in order not to lose their freedom. The road done by Benest was a trunk C road and the heavy trucks have damaged a portion of the road by the bridge and the contractor has returned to that spot to fix it because no certificate of completion has been signed on any of those roads.

So no contractor has been freed from their responsibility and whatever we discover at this stage will be fixed by the contractor. Yes we have giant contracting firms like Julius Berger and CCECE but we cannot overload them and slow down their speed. Julius Berger already has two major jobs from us before World Bank gave the IBB flood control job recently to them. The CCECE is having two major jobs including the Eket -Etinan Road. DPL is not doing too well with their job on Okopedi- Uya Oron and we have protested in writing to them and working towards ensuring the best for the area. If the right job is done, Akwa Ibom will not lose any money and those who are not doing their job will refund money to government.

We don’t need to announce that on the streets. When we recovered money from Renaissance, we didn’t go the street to announce that the funds were recovered into government coffers. We are in the process of recovering whatever was paid to Land Sea and we are not making it a public issue. I had expected the House member to pass through the appropriate committees in the house to invite us to know the position of the road. If you carefully review what he said, you will know that it was a sponsored speech done arbitrarily. That report cannot stand the test of time.

The Ring Road 2 is also having challenges since the contractor left the site?

The contractor has not left the site. What happened is that at the onset when we were looking for people who can come under the Alternative Project Funding Approach, APFA, and the contractor came with assurances that he will do the job and asked government to give him ISPO which means he will use his resources while government pays intermittently, he was them given Ring roads 2 and 3. However when we discovered that they didn’t have the resources, we wrote to the governor who terminated Ring Road 3 and handed it over to Hensek Integrated Services Ltd. He was left with Ring Road 2 and we still discovered that he doesn’t have the resources and government asked him to fund it at 50 per cent while government brings 50 per cent and government exhausted their 50 per cent and he still did not have the resources to put and government took full responsibility of the road. The road is not abandoned and what is left is not much just that we don’t want to give out money before the dry season so that it will be well utilized. In the next three months between December to February, if we have sun, that road will be fully completed and no kobo is lost. I intentionally asked the governor not to release the fund till dry season so that when it is released, we will seat on the neck of the contractor to ensure its completion. The end part of the road after Atan Offot has a deep depression, and the out fall drainage we ought to have there was not in the original design. I ordered him to start doing it and again how do you achieve an outfall drain when we are at the peak of rainy season? What is left to complete that job up to Atan Offot is just a little regulation of the stone base and the asphalting.

The road is not an abandoned project as government has expended over 60 per cent of the sum and what is left will complete the project. We are unfortunate that the rainfall this year in the state has been excessive and under the condition, it will be too difficult to use heavy duty road construction machines effectively on the earth. Once the sun comes, they will return to the field to correct some of these problems. Again you know that government resources are very limited and the governor has devised means of prioritizing the roads to be fully funded, especially those that have gulped about 60 per cent of their projected funds.

Some of the contractors too have been given funds to do asphalting but I have advised them to wait for a while owing to the rainy season. Once we have a period of sun, about eight roads will be completed. But if the rain persists, I will not be part of anybody that will do that job to avoid running into the same problem we have in Awa and other roads in that axis, so that somebody will not become excited again.

Could the criticisms of poor roads construction by government be traced to the recent allegations that the House members demanded gratifications before doing their job, which you may not have given?

I don’t know because I never had deals with him since he is not the chairman, Finance and Appropriation Committee. In truth, I have good working relationship with the Committee and the House in general. Nobody harasses me. If you review the speech of the Appropriation and Finance committee Chairman, you will see there is nothing offensive there. I went through the Committee on Works led by David Lawrence before going for the budget defence and had no issues. If we have issues they would have stopped us at the Works Committee which is our primary Committee.

If there was a problem, we would have had confrontation from the chairman, vice chairman and other members but I think the problem was not a committee one but an individual who is being sponsored to embarrass me. Even before the day of that drama, we never had any issues with any committee. He decided to act drama and it backfired. I can tell you authoritatively that no contractor will ever say that he is having challenges with his job because the Ministry of Works or the Commissioner has tempered with funds given to him. That is why whenever there is any problem on their job; they take full responsibility for the error. Since the job is done by humans, errors are possible but not necessarily intended.

In the first term roads were done under the rain and still were of standard could it be…..

(Cuts in) the Governor’s first term barely finished under the rain. The difference between last year’s rain and that of this year is that this year’s own is so torrential whenever it falls and the depth of the water holding back is so massive. But last year, we had scarcely rains that once it stops the land becomes normal after 2-3 or 4 hours. The rain of few days ago has the moisture content of the soil at 8 per cent because of the volume of the rain; previously we were able to do it because the rain will come, give a space of one week before falling again. In that one week break, you can do some reasonable jobs, but now once we have high sun in a day, that means there will be torrential rain tomorrow and will take another three days to dry up and before that could be achieved to roll out equipments to the field the rain comes again.

There is a big difference between the seasons but sill the same government. The Governor has funded the projects well but the rain has come in a very terrible manner against all calculations and seriously hindered us. Sometimes it takes up to two weeks before going to the field and most times at project sites, the rains are so heavy that you can’t even disembark from the vehicle. And you sit down there for two hours and drive back since it is practically impossible to carry out effective inspections under the rain. Go to the metrological services centre and get statistics of the rainfall for 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 and you discover a big difference between the previous and the present in the volume of rainfall.

What contingency plan do you have for the flood especially in Uyo as it covers the entire City once we have small rain?

From 2015, the roads that were done here in the state were good roads with drainages. I want to say that you cannot manage flooding without good drainages. If you go to some parts of Oron Road, Udo Udoma and IBB, you will realise that these are major roads without drains. And when you don’t have the rain water collection, channelization before outfall discharge, you have failed. The Esuene Street was done without proper drainages so if you don’t get the IBB water channelled to Ibesikpo Asutan outfall all other roads in that areas will continue to have flood challenges.

In the past I spoke during an interview about the Airport Road and stated that it was wrong to have done such road in the city without drainages especially in this our tropical rain forest. If it rains and you drive on the road, you will be covered with water. So that road has not failed today because there is no development there yet. My position is that when we have development on both sides with casted grounds and building on both sides elevated above the road, the water will return to the road and Airport road will become flooded. I believe that informed the Governor’s decision to do an expansion work on the road so that in the process create drainages along the road. So for IBB, we hope and our prayer is that the World Bank should assist and the outfall drainage will be done so that government will have funds to invest on Udo Udoma, Oron Road and other ancillary roads around the area to take water after every rain fall to IBB, so that IBB outfall drainage can discharge the rest. The IBB flood control project done with the support of the World Bank will solve the problem. You cannot manage flood unless there are absolute inter connectivity of drainages, you don’t break water flow. The World Bank project is at the verge of being consummated.

Roads around IBB axis are beginning to collapse owing to the heavy traffic intake since IBB Avenue becomes impassable. Any hope fixing them?

Now you understand the implications of having so much traffic on roads not designed to handle such traffic. When the Niger Development Commission (NDDC) went to do Ukana Offot Road, I spoke in an interview in one of the radio stations and advised them to avoid working yet on the road until we take water out of IBB; that the backflow of the water that collects at IBB will swell backwards and destroy all the roads. If you recall the road was started in 2016 and finished in 2017 but by the rainfall of August 2018 some vehicles were hanging inside the flood collection there. However Government can step in and create a motorable situation once we start the major construction at IBB to take the water out.

Those roads can now be constructed with side drains and as we are finishing, the IBB outfall drains will be ready to collect those waters. If you put ashaphalt on that road now, it will fail and the rain of 2020 will be greater than that of 2019 and the IBB outfall drain cannot be completed between now and next rainy session, so what happened previously will still happen. Therefore in the interim, we will create a motorable situation not to construct road that will still collapse under the massive pressure of flood at the end of the day.

I want to say that modern cities are constructed with two things in mind, location of houses and a massive plan for flood control. People today are blaming government for flood problem forgetting that most of the previously constructed roads without side drains and poor housing plans posing serious challenges to flood control were done before the coming of this government. Some people believe government should do magic to solve the problems that has persists for very long time. That is impossible, however government is doing its best and the resources are limited and cannot solve all problems on ground at once. The challenges of flood in the Shelter Afrique Estate are well known to government and efforts are being made to tackle it permanently, pending availability of funds. Again spending government’s limited funds are usually done through priorities with consideration in ensuring the greater good for the greater number of people. So government looks at what will be of greater benefit to the people in her spending.

Use Ikot Amama Road made popular during the last administration also needs government attention seriously.

Use Ikot Amama is not yet in the picture because the Governor has awarded the Ikot Ada Idem Road in Ibiono Ibom Local Government Area. We have awarded and construction about to take off on the Obotme by Ikpanya Road which is also in Ibiono Ibom, You know we need to spread this road projects out. The only contract that I will be in position to persuade the Governor to consider is a road in Urue Offong Oruko council area, so that by the end of his administration, every part of the state would have been touched road wise. Every other part of the state has benefited.

Calabar- Itu Highway is now a death-trap not withstanding assurances from Senator Ita Enang, a presidential aide, before the elections that contract for the road has been awarded and will be completed in record time. What is your take?

I want to ask journalists to refer to our interview (myself and Ita Enang) months back at Inspiration FM Station, I told Akwa Ibom people clearly that the little the Federal Government was doing on that road before the election is just for the purpose of that election and that they will disappear after elections.

It is sad that rather than addressing the failure of the Federal Government on that road, the same Senator Ita Enang has come to tell Akwa Ibom people that Governor Emmanuel received N78billion for federal roads, which is cheap black mail. Ita Enang lied to Akwa Ibom people and it is very obvious, Julius Berger was not mobilized for Calabar- Itu road. If you doubt what I am saying, why is the road not in 2020 budget? Last year notwithstanding the little they put in the budget there were no releases.

Now my own budget is N120billion and people will judge my performances on those figures without bothering about my releases. Even a paltry sum for the contractors to start with is not even in the 2020 budget of the country for Calabar- Itu highway, so how is the road going to be constructed; surprisingly nobody here has summed up courage to confront Ita Enang on his lies to avoid been traced but when it has to do with Akwa Ibom State government or Ephraim Inyang, they will take us to the cleaners.

However, they have failed. People should rather be clapping for me for our efforts at creating good road network for easy movement of our people

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