By Olusegun Lawrence The multi-million dollars Abuja rail project awarded to the China Civil and Engineering Construction Company (CCECC) and signed by the Olusegun Obasanjo administration in 2007 was heavily inflated, the Senate Committee on FCT headed by Senator Dino Melaye has discovered.
While on an oversight function to the project site on Monday, FCT committee members were shocked when told that the contract was signed without a design and Memorandum of Understanding, MOU.
The then Minister of FCT now Kaduna state governor, Nasir El-Rufai, was said to have signed the contract based on uncalculated estimates.
Melaye-led committee discovered that the contract which stood at 60.67 kilometres, was inflated by ten million dollars per kilometre even as the length was later reduced to 45 kilometres without reduction in cost.
Answering questions, Project Manager of CCECC, Etim Abak, said “The contract was awarded based on conceptual design and estimates were not properly done. There was no formal design submitted and rail bridges and crossover bridges were not captured in the contract, “he told the committee.
Speaking, the Chairman of the committee, Senator Dino Melaye, said that the contract was shrouded in fraud, noting that the contract sum was 841.645,898 dollars and project completion period was 48 months while the scope of work was 60.67km standard gauge, with double railway tracks and associated permanent way within FCT, Melaye said the whole project was shrouded in fraud.
“Now, you have reduced the length of the kilometre standard gauge from 60.67 kilometres to 45.245 kilometres, meanwhile, there is no concomitant reduction if you juxtapose the length of kilometres and the reduction in terms of the cost.
“If we are to spend 841 million dollars for 60.67 kilometres and now you have reduced to 45.245 kilometres and the only reduction in terms of monetary value is from 841.6 million dollars to 823 million and with reduction of just about 17 million dollars that to me is not commensurate to the reduction in terms of length.
“The Federal Government has so far invested 31.5 billion dollars and another 7.6 billion from the SURE-P fund and if you put these together, we have altogether 39.1 billion dollars invested in the rail project, leaving the balance of 113, 233,155.32 dollars.
“The sum of three billion dollars proposed in the 2016 national budget of the FCT for the rail project.
“If you look at this, I would want to say that I did a personal research and looked at rail construction of the same specifics, of the same technology across the globe and one cannot but complain that this railway project in Nigeria is on a very high side.
“From my own calculation, in fact, from my comparison with other rail projects across the world, the federal government investment in this project is enough to execute the project without taking a loan as high as 500 million dollars from China.
” From our research and it’s very simple, the world is now a global village. As you are sitting here now, on your phone you can Google, even in India and Egypt. Fortunately, one of those projects in Zambia was also done by this same company, CCECC.
“We have six countries and the average cost per kilometre, none is above four million dollars per kilometre. Why is the Nigerian project costing 13.8 approximately 14 million?” he queried.
Melaye therefore, demanded the refund of the sum of $195,878,296.74 dollars, being the amount for the 15.67 kilometres cut out, from the Chinese firm, CCECC, handling the project.