…There is no Perfect Runway in Nigeria- ULO.
By Michael Odiah
The Honorable Commissioner for Works, Hon. James Augoye in a shocking revelation has submitted with evidence that ULO Consultancy Limited is solely responsible for the failure of the Asaba International Airport Runway averring that the runway which was supposed to last for at least 20 years was not properly constructed.
Hon Augoye disclosed this on Tuesday November 21, 2017 at the ongoing investigation into the poor execution of the Airport project instituted by the House Committee on Works of the Delta State House of Assembly, stating that, the Airport construction contract which was awarded to ULO Contractors on 13th of February 2008, at a cost of N21.2bn with 50% advanced payment, failed within four years and was again re-awarded to ULO for rehabilitation in 2015.
The Commissioner further revealed that most of the contracts awarded to ULO had no contract agreements adding that these contracts were not also completed by the contractor, thus putting the State Government in deficits.
Augoye stated that although the Ministry of Works is charged with the responsibility of valuing work done cum supervision and approval of raised certificates, the rehabilitation contract was still awarded to the same contractor due to some State Executive Fiat adding that the formal disengagement of ULO contractors which was recently presented to the State Government is a welcomed development and should be considered for reception even in the face of the N1.5bn debt against ULO.
In his response, the chairman of ULO Consultancy Limited, Chief Uche Okpunor said, that there have never been a perfect runway since the construction of runways in Nigeria adding that maintenance and restructuring is a norm.
Okpunor revealed that the runway lacked CRL- Crack Relieve Layer from the initial stage of the runway construction, and that they worked solely on the design presented to them by the Ministry of Works adding that, in 2014 when NCAA visited the Airport and informed them of the need for the Airport to be upgraded taking cognizance of five major gaps such as perimeter fencing, landing system, approach lights amongst others that needed to be closed, else the airport will be shut down on their next visit.
Speaking further Chief Okpunor said that the Obstacle Free-Zone contract was divided into three where each contractor was expected to attempt a minimum of 30% and if properly checked it will be noted that ULO was given the most tasking part against the backdrop that it was equally divided into 3 equal parts adding that the advanced payments of 50% done in 2014 and is not co-measurably worthy to stand the increasing cost of things in subsequent years till date.
ULO in its defense, revealed that the Airport drainage contract given to the company was without design which encapsulated a seven months disagreement before going to site. However, this allegation was debunked by the serving permanent secretary to the State Ministry for Works, Mr Austine Ayemindejor who said that the ministry appointed a consultant who did a design and adequately furnished ULO with it but the contractor rather brought in their technical partners who after a report brought a design not too different from the first design.
The investigation of the House Committee on Works is set to go on until a final decision is reached.