By Onomiguren Agbamu
Delta Governor and Vice-Presidential Candidate of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on Friday, said his administration reviewed cost of some ongoing projects in the state due to inflation and rising cost of construction materials.
Speaking to journalists shortly after inspecting ongoing construction of Isheagu-Ewulu road and bridge in Aniocha South Local Government Area of the state, Okowa said that current economic indices in the country had taken negative tolls on every segment of activities and therefore, made review of the contracts’ values inevitable.
He said that the road and bridge when completed, would serve two major agrarian communities of Isheagu and Ewulu.
The governor stated that contract for the project was awarded in January, 2021 and would be completed in December, 2022, adding that 4.7-kilometre Isheagu section already reconstructed.
He also said that from the bridge to Ewulu another fresh section of 4.4 kilometres of road would be constructed.
“With what is going on in Nigeria now, the inflation rate is very high and it is affecting every other thing, particularly construction of infrastructure.
“Most of our contractors are actually struggling, so we had no option than to review the rate because inflation has risen as much as 18.6 per cent and that is actually affecting every aspect of the life of the people.
“As regards the cost of construction, the high cost of diesel at the moment, asphalt has also gone suddenly very high and of course, to drive most of the motorised equipment you require for construction work, you need a lot of diesel. The cost of rod has also gone up and it’s going up by the day.
“Unfortunately, beyond the global tendencies of Russia-Ukraine war which has also devalued our naira and making it to depreciate on daily basis and this goes a long way to affect the original cost of contracts,” he said.
The governor, who was conducted round the project by the Commissioner for Works (Highways and Urban Roads) Mr Noel Omodon, explained that government was left with no option than to review the cost of the projects to ensure their timely completion amid biting inflation.
“Having looked at everything, we needed to save the budget and the earlier we find a pathway to completing the projects the better, otherwise the escalation continues even more on a daily basis.
“So, it’s quite difficult and we wished we didn’t get into the kind of difficulties we are in to, but we have no choice.
“We have started the projects and we have to complete them otherwise the contractors will move out of site and when they move out, to remobilise is at a higher cost and we don’t want to go through that route at all.
“It’s a very unfortunate situation we find ourselves; it distorts our budgeting and we just hope that we are able to continue realigning our budget to keep pace with the construction that we are undergoing.
“Beyond having the infrastructure in place, it also creates jobs for our young ones and we cannot afford to have the contractors move out of site because it will mean that you are going to take food off the table of families which is also not good for us.
“I have been informed that the project would be completed by the end of December, 2022.
“From what we are seeing, life is coming back to Isheagu from the excitement on the faces of the people because the road would help them to evacuate their farm produce,” he stated.
Okowa also inspected ongoing works at the Sector C1 of the Ughelli-Asaba road by Obo River where the contractor said the bridge construction would be completed in October while the road would be ready in December, 2022.