The Nigerian Minister of Works, Dave Umahi, has revoked the N870bn highway contracts awarded to three construction companies, namely Dantata & Sawoe, MotherCat, and RCC, for non-performance. The contracts for sections II, III, and IV of the dualisation of Obajana-Benin Road were terminated due to delays in completion. The contracts were initially reviewed at N121bn, but the cost was later put at N870bn at N2bn per kilometre. Umahi had warned of contract termination on April 25, and he issued an ultimatum to the contractors handling various road projects to sit up or lose their contracts. The action was taken after the completion of 330 emergency projects following an appropriation of N300bn by the Federal Government, reducing the number of uncompleted road projects from 2,600 to 2,270.

The Special Adviser on Media to the Minister, Uchenna Orji, announced the termination of the contracts on Monday, stating that the affected projects included the dualisation of Obajana – Benin road, section II (Okene – Auchi) in Kogi/Edo State; the dualisation of Obajana – Benin road, section III (Auchi – Ehor) in Edo State, and the dualisation of Obajana – Benin road, section IV (Ehor – Benin) in Edo State. The contractors were accused of inordinate delay, neglect, and failure to fulfill their contractual obligations, which exposed road users to untold hardship due to the deplorable condition of the projects.

Umahi expressed dismay at the slow pace of work on the Akwa Ibom and Cross River – Calabar-Itu section awarded to three contractors during the presentation of the routes of section 3A and the Trans-Africa Highway traversing Cross River through Ebonyi, Kogi, Nasarawa, and Abuja. He reiterated his earlier threat to axe non-performing construction firms and warned contractors who think it is still ‘business as usual’ when handling government projects that the old order had changed, insisting that no amount of lobby would save them if they failed to perform.

An official of the Association of Road Contractors challenged the minister to showcase the kilometers of road projects completed since he assumed office and accused him of compounding the current situation in the sector. He added that most of the projects were moribund because of the cost of inflation, and the minister had not proffered adequate solutions to resolve the issue. The official accused the minister of bullying contractors and noted that most contractors were not happy with the former ex-Ebonyi state governor.