The people of Ikpide-Irri riverine community, Isoko South Local Government Area of Delta State, have protested against an ongoing substandard road contract awarded to PORTPLUS limited, a marine company, at the sum of N736, 404, 555.60 by Governor Ifeanyi Okowa.
Raising the alarm of the substandard job being executed by the contractor, who is said to be an indigene of the community, the people disclosed that instead of the construction of two-way drains on the road, only one way was done, while specified rods according to the drawings and Bill Of Quantity (BOQ) were not used.
"The contract is a concrete pavement road contract awarded to our son who is a friend to Governor Okowa. But its so unfortunate that the contractor, our own son, dumped the (BOQ) and constructed one-sided drains and used substandard materials to construct the culverts. The stone base was poorly done as well, while in some areas there were no drains, resulting in flooding of the community whenever it rains," a community leader lamented.
According to contract documents obtained by SaharaReporters, Governor Okowa awarded the contract sometime in early 2017 to PORTPLUS limited, owned by one Mr. Immanuel Omoefe, said to be a crony and one of those who contributed to his 2015 governorship election.
A further check by our correspondent revealed that Portplus Limited is a wholly-owned Nigerian Company incorporated in 2004 with Registration Number (RC No 607566) to handle operations as a Marine Logistics and Support Services provider.
Speaking on the contract few months ago, Mr. Michael Omojefe, Presidential General of the community and an uncle of the contractor, had told our correspondent in clear terms that the road contract was a 'kolanut' contract given to his younger brother by Governor Okowa for his contributions to Okowa's 2015 governorship race and as such, no one has the rights to question him on the execution of the contract.
But the Isoko Monitoring Group (IMG), a pan-Isoko group fighting underdevelopment and injustice in the area, condemned the ongoing substandard job by PORTPLUS limited, calling for strict adherence to the Bill Of Quantity and professionalism in roads construction.
It warned that failing to follow the rules, it shall left with no option than to invite anti-graft agencies to probe the contract.
The statement, signed by IMG President, Mr. Sabastine Agbefe, and made available to Journalists, expressed dissatisfaction over a situation where a marine company that has no history of road construction would be awarded a contract of almost a billion naira by Okowa.
In another strongly-worded petition, addressed to Okowa and signed by their counsel, Mr. C.F. Ebu of the legacy chambers, Asaba, concerned indigenes of the community condemned the substandard job and called for strict adherence to the Bill Of Quantity, (BOQ) and the drawings.
The petition was also forwarded to the Commissioner for Works, Commissioner of Police, State Director of SSS, member representing constituency 2 in the state house of Assembly, Orezi Esievo, Chairman of Isoko South Local Government Area and President General of Isoko Development Union (IDU), among others.
The petition, entitled 'Re: Construction Of Ikpide-Irri Township Roads: Protest Against The Substandard Job And Call For Strict Adherence To The Bill Of Quantity', vowed that failure to ignore all the demands shall attract the invitation of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and other anti-graft agencies.
"We have the information that the construction of Ikpide-Irri township roads contract was awarded to PORTPLUS limited at the sum of N736, 404, 555.60. It is our information that the length of the road is 6.611km and drain length is 2.500km," it reads.
"In a fact-finding mission with a team of engineers, it was obviously discovered that the road was not being constructed according to the specification of the Bill Of Quantity (BOQ) and engineering drawings standard. As a result of that, the tendency of the road project to fail will soon be imminent.
"We are using this medium to appeal to you as follows: That the drains should be reconstructed and on both sides with its normal length and depth of 750mm×750×150mm thick using the normal materials (Y 10mm dia rods specified in the original Bill Of Quantity (BOQ) and the drawings.
"That the culverts should be reconstructed because the culverts construction was not met as rods used were 10mm at interval of 300mm instead of 16mm at interval of 150mm spacing specified in the drawings; the original Bill Of Quantity (BOQ) and concrete mixed was very poor. Also, the size specified in the drawings was not professionally followed.
"That the stone base filling should be revisited because the filling height laid was 50mm and not in conformance with 150mm thick stone base that was specified on the drawings and Bill Of Quantity (BOQ).
"We therefore caution that the contractor handling the road project follows what was specified on the Bill Of Quantity and standards of road construction process to make the road durable. Note that any deviation from the above-stated demands shall leave us with no other option than to invite anti-graft agencies into the contract."
Meanwhile, the concerned indigenes of the community said their lives and those of their families are currently under severe threat due to their critical stance on the job. They alleged that at the moment, the handlers of the contract are already making plans to frame them up and use security agencies to arrest them.
When contacted, Omoefe did not respond to calls but the site engineer, who simply identified himself as Frank Nnamdi Ajoku, denied the substandard job story, saying: "We are working according to the Bill Of Quantity. We did one side drain according to the BOQ, but because of the terrain, it would have been better to construct two sides drainages in the community."
Also, calls to the Commissioner for Works, Mr. James Augoye, were not answered. However, a director in the ministry who does not want his name mentioned disclosed thatt the Governor had directed that a team of engineers from the ministry should visit the site to inspect the standard of job done so far.
Meanwhile, a mild drama ensued on Tuesday when one of the substandard culverts constructed by PORTPLUS Nigeria limited collapsed in the presence of the team from the Ministry of Works, Asaba, sent by the Governor to look into all the issues raised by the indigenes of the community.
It was gathered that in a bid to cover up his contractor-brother, President-General of the community, Mr. Michael Omojefe, and the site engineer, Mr. Frank Nnamdi Ajoku, lied to the team that the culverts were constructed with 16mm rods as specified on the BOQ and the drawings, but immediately they took the team to another area in the town, an indigene ran to inform the team that one of the culverts had just collapsed.
On returning to the collapsed culvert, the team was shocked to discovered that the contractor, instead of using the specified 16mm, used 10mm rods for the culvert construction. It was learned that Omojefe had to take the team to his brother's house to offer them the sum N250, 000 as 'kola-nut'.