The Lagos State government has refused to release to contractors the multi-billion naira funds made available by the World Bank to facilitate the upgrading of Lagos Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) depots, bus terminals and bus stop shelters.
The projects, awarded through the Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA) in 2015, were supported by the World Bank and the Lagos State government. It was revealed that the World Bank redeemed its financial commitment to the tune of about 95% while the State government was expected to provide the remaining 5%.
However, many of the projects have been left uncompleted, as the State government failed to pay contractors their agreed funds.
Some contractors who had completed aspects of their projects earlier awarded are yet to be paid their outstanding balances. These contractors met the mandatory retention period of one year stipulated in the contract documents.
A SaharaReporters correspondent spoke to an official of one of the contractors who lamented his company’s lack of funding from the State government.
"What the State government was expected to do was provide effective supervision and to ensure that the jobs were done to specification. But what we have now is that funds have stopped coming in, which led to us leaving the sites,” he explained.
“If you go around the project sites, you will notice that workers are no longer on site. We have to pay these workers and we don't have the resources to do so. The best thing to do under the circumstance will be to ask the workers to stay at home pending the improvement of the situation.”
He added that efforts to rectify the situation and continue the implementation of the projects have been met with brick walls, as Lagos State insists there were no funds to complete the projects.
However, in a contrary opinion, the External Relations Specialist and Head Communications Unit of LAMATA, Kolawole Ojelabi, maintained that the debts had been settled about a week earlier.
“Let me quickly say that I am just returning from some of the sites in question. Yes, contractors left sites due to the payment structure that was changed. However, some of them have begun to receive their payments,” Mr. Ojelabi said.
“I can confirm to you that contractors handling the depots and bus shelters are back on site.”
He lamented the challenge posed by the decline in the value of naira against the dollar, saying that the World Bank gave the credit at N200 to a dollar but the naira now sells for over N300 a dollar.
“Don't also forget that the federal government early in the year introduced flexible exchange, and the World Bank that is partially funding these projects gave the credit at the prevailing bank rate then and the rate has since changed.
“You also should know that at the finance level, one has to find a way to re-engineer how this money can meet up with the initial cost of the projects. I think we have overcome that. Contractors are being paid and they are returning to sites gradually," he added.