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Abuja Now Home To Abandoned, White Elephant Projects

Billions of naira disbursed to contractors, but projects rot away | Government makes excuses for delays, abandonment | It’s a national shame, say residents

For over two decades, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) has been characterised by so many uncompleted public projects.

A country capital originally designed to be the most modern and most beautiful city in West Africa, Abuja is now home to numerous  abandoned white elephant projects littering the city.

Several administrations have come and gone with none of them showing any political will to complete projects they met on the ground, for which billions of naira was budgeted for and disbursed to contractors; they would rather introduce and organise groundbreaking ceremonies for new gigantic projects, with no plans put in place to ensure the projects are completed within their tenure, or when they leave office.

Some of these abandoned or uncompleted projects littering the city are the Millennium Tower and Cultural Centre, Abuja Technology Village Science and Technology Park, Abuja Technology Village, Utako General Hospital, National Library, NIPOST Headquarters, FIRS Headquarters, Ministry of Agric Headquarters, the popular underground pedestrian bridge which links the FCDA to the FCT Minister’s wing and the 15km Apo-Karshi road.

From the huge cost of the projects, some of them running into hundreds of billions of Naira, many people in the FCT believe that with the current economic reality –  inflation in the cost of building materials and the devaluation of the naira – most of the projects may not see the light of the day, and may remain uncompleted for years to come.

The Millennium Tower, an extensive project, was initiated in 2005 by the Olusegun Obasanjo administration. The Tower was designed to be the tallest tower in Abuja at metres (560ft) with an estimated cost of N69.3bn.

It was gathered that for several years, the government did not make budgetary provision for the complex, thereby forcing Salini Nigeria Limited, the Italian firm handling the construction, to suspend work after over N35.7bn had gone into it.

A source who spoke to our reporter said that with the current inflation in the prices of building materials, an additional N56bn would be needed to complete the project.

The Tower was designed at the same time with the National Library, National Square, International Auditorium, and the Nigerian Cultural Centre within the same vicinity.

It was gathered that the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) is exploring all available opportunities for increased budgetary appropriations to take the project to a level that will be attractive for a Public Private Partnership (PPP) option to complete the project.

Also, among the abandoned multi-million naira structures in the FCT, the worst is the NIPOST Corporate Headquarters opposite the Nigeria Export Promotion Council (NEPC) at Aguiyi Ironsi Street, Maitama, Abuja.

The contractor handling the project, Eldorado Nigeria Limited, was said to have abandoned work early into the project. What is visible there now is an old signpost bearing information about the project’s owner, contractor, and other basic information.

Another uncompleted project in the FCT is the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) headquarters building, which ATO Architects won the competition for the design in 2011 on a 14,113.97sqm land with a building footprint of 5645.58sqm. BNL Engineering and Construction Limited (Bouygues) is the main contractor.

Construction began in 2015 by ATO Architects who designed the project,whose cost was put at N39.2bn as of August 2014, to comprise three towers joined at the centre, according to Estate Intel Limited.

However, the structure is yet to be completed despite the 2021 completion deadline given by the contractors handling the project.

The National Library headquarters, located on Plot 35, Central Business District, Abuja, is another project which has been abandoned for years.  Realising the building has become a mirage, because the completion of the project seemed to have been defeated by lack of political will by the government.

It was gathered that the contract for the project was awarded in 2006 to a construction company known as Messes Reynolds Construction Company (RCC) at the cost of N8.590bn, but construction was stalled because of the government’s inability to fund the contract, and in 2008, the contractor demanded an upward review of the amount.

However, the Ministry of Education later reviewed the design of the property, leading to the upward review of the project to N18bn in 2009 following approval by the Federal Executive Council (FEC), with a completion period of 21 months effective from July 2010, but 11 years have gone by, with the structure remaining the same without any progress towards completion.

Also, the former minister of agriculture and rural development, Chief Audu Ogbeh’s request to buy a 10-storey property on Plot 1062, Herbert Macaulay Way, Central Business District in Abuja, from  Messrs Efab Properties Limited at the cost of N7.075bn, was approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC).

This building was to serve as the corporate headquarters of the Ministry of Agriculture because for over 20 years the ministry operated from a single three-floor complex within the premises of the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) and spent over N400m annually in rents for some of its departments.

However, since acquiring the building years ago, the building has been abandoned, with nothing done to uplift the structure for administrative use. It was discovered that the building is gradually becoming dilapidated, with the roof already falling off.

Another abandoned project in the FCT is the 220-bed Utako District Hospital, which was awarded at the cost of about N4.263 billion to M/S PPC Medical Systems.

A senior member of staff of the FCTA’s health and human services department said that work on the project had stalled after about N2.222 billion, more than half of the total contract sum, was paid to the contractor. The project began over 16 years ago.

When LEADERSHIP visited the hospital, the environment looked deserted, with only two private security guards noticed at the gate.

Despite the billions expended on it so far, the hospital is still not completed to cater for the health needs of residents of the territory.

Also in 2013, the FCTA stated that the contract for the design and construction of a dam treatment, plants, tanks, and other bulk water supply to Karshi satellite town was awarded to SCC Nigeria; for years now, the project has been abandoned.

According to a director in the FCT, who preferred anonymity, the contract sum was pegged at over N19.438 billion and the FCTA released over N3.501 billion to the company,

According to him, work commenced on the project, with the digging of the first layer of both the main water borehole and the reservoir, but not much has been done so far to justify the money collected to execute the project.

Attempts to speak to the project manager of SCC Karshi failed as no official qualified to speak on the project was seen on the site.

The director of information,  Federal Capital Development  Authority (FCDA), Richard Nduul, while speaking on the uncompleted projects, said that the minister of FCT, Mallam Muhammed Bello, was not happy that there are major projects uncompleted in the city.

He said that measures are being put in place to ensure the completion of projects that are handled by the FCDA, even as he explained that some of the uncompleted projects, apart from the Millennium Tower, Karshi Dam, and Treatment Plant, are not handled by the FCDA.

Another project that has suffered delay is the Apo-Karshi Road, a very important road linking Abuja city with rural communities close to the nation’s capital.

In what appears to be a growing embarrassment to the federal government, the Apo-Karshi road was awarded in 2010 to open up Abuja and its surroundings to the Federal Capital Territory’s (FCT) rural suburbs, but it is yet to be completed 11 years after.

The 15km road, if completed, will link the rural communities along the Karshi axis to  the city of Abuja and ease the perennial traffic  gridlock on the busy Abuja-Keffi highway, notorious for high traffic on  weekday mornings and evenings.

The Apo-Wasa road segment was awarded in 2017 by the FCT and was expected to be completed within 12 months at the cost of about N8.62 billion.

It was learnt that the  FCT administration was considering other strategies for completing the other part of the expressway measuring 52km, ending at the Abuja-Lokoja highway. One of the strategies included a Public-Private-Partnership initiative with interested investors.

When completed, this segment would run through Wasa District and Kuje Town before ending up at Gwagwalada.

source; https://leadership.ng/abuja-now-home-to-abandoned-white-elephant-projects/

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