Monday, December 18Informations That Matters

Asaba Airport Set For Closure, As Okowa Allegedly Frustrates Contractor To Pull Out Of Delta Amid Controversy

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Reports from Delta state say Asaba International Airport may be shut down again as the major contractor engaged by Delta state Government is pulling out of the upgrade project.

The contractors, ULO Consultants Limited is getting set to further wield the axe against Governor Ifeanyi Okowa who is alleged to have withheld part of the fund approved for the upgrade of the airport by the state House of Assembly.

The firm is planning to take drastic action against the Delta state government following what they called “unfavourable working conditions.”

According to THEWILL, the contractor has also said it will pull out of all projects being executed on behalf of the state government.

This is coming as controversy continue to trail the alleged shoody work done at the Asaba International Airport by ULO Consultants Ltd.

BigPen Online had earlier reported that the  Delta state House of Assembly Committee on Works headed by Hon. (Chief) Evance Ochuko Ivwurie few days ago queried the contractor, Chief Uche Okpuno, over the project which according to Ivwurie has caused the State Government untold embarrassment, setbacks and public opprobrium”.

Specifically, Ivwurie had expressed dissapointment over the level of work done so far at the project site saying, “this specific contractor is obstinately recalcitrant” during inspection of work done by Okpunor’s firm, ULO Consultant Limited.

It was not clear whether the decision to pull out of the project was informed by the action of the State House of Assembly.

THEWILL however at the weekend, quoting sources with knowledge of the development, reported that the contractor’s sudden withdrawal may prompt the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) to downgrade and shut the airport for safety reasons.

The newspaper recalled that the airport had been previously shut over safety concerns after aviation officials expressed concerns over the runway and taxiway, as well as the hills surrounding it.

The State government and the contractor have been trying to correct the issues raised by federal aviation officials without much success. The contractor’s withdrawal will technically mean that the rehabilitation work at the airport has failed at least for now.

ULO in a letter by Uche Okpuno, its chairman, to Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, said his company would begin disengagement from site from November 20, 2017. The letter was dispatched to Okowa yesterday (Friday, November 17, 2017.

“The estimates prepared by the Ministry of Works in 2014 without our inputs negates due process and principle of contract as no reputable Civil Engineering company of competence was involved in the preparing of a competitive Bill of Engineering measurement and evaluation,” the company said.

We gathered that Okowa has declined to review terms of the contract, which was initially awarded by his predecessor, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan despite ULO’s insistence that it could not continue to service the project due to rising costs occasioned by the devaluation of the naira.

The disengagement of ULO will not be the first in the Okowa administration, as other notable construction companies such as CCECC, Setraco and Levante have since pulled out due to these same issues, leaving small time companies and enterprises as the only ones used by the government to carry out construction.

In withdrawing their entire services from the state, ULO agreed to review all the works done by them in conjunction with the State Ministry of Works to determine if in their obligation to the state, they owe or the state owes them, including a comprehensive cost audit.

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