The Federal Government has approved N280b for the completion of the Bodo-Bonny road project with a December 2024 completion deadline to Julius Berger Nigeria (JBN) PLC, the Minister of Works, David Umahi has informed.

The government also condemned the attitude of Reynolds Construction Company (RCC) on the 15km East-West Road project (from Port Harcourt Eleme Junction to Onne Port Junction) for failing to complete even a kilometer of the project despite being mobilized with over N40b.

The contractor has been ordered to resume work with an ultimatum or face the risk of the contract being terminated.

The government said it will no longer entertain discussions on Variation of Price (VOP) on the two projects again.

In a statement on Wednesday by the Minister’s Special Adviser on Media, Uchenna Orji, the approval of the fund for the completion of the Bodo-Bonny Road was in furtherance of the resolve of President Bola Tinubu to solve the perennial transportation challenges in Bodo-Bonny, South-South Nigeria, and thus enhance the socio-economic prospects of the two communities of Rivers State.

The Minister, while on an inspection tour of project sites on the Southern axis on Wednesday, expressed reservation over the progress of work on the Bodo-Bonny project administration by the contractor, JBN, insisting that the amount of money paid needed to correspond with the project completed.

The Minister was accompanied by Deputy Chief Whip of the Senate Sen. Onyekachi Peter Nwaebonyi, the spokesperson to the Bodo-Bonny Peace Committee, Prof. Jasper Jumbo, and Nigeria LNG (NLNG) representative and Manager Government Relations, Dienye Godson.

While he advised the contractor to work round the clock to beat the project delivery timeline of December 2024, the Minister established that no further excuses would be entertained by the government on the project delivery timeline.

He also foreclosed discussions on another Variation On Price (VOP), affirming that the Federal Government would not approve further funds for the project for any reason of variation whatsoever.

“And in case the devil comes to play, whatever happens, we are not increasing this project cost. It’s a package, and it’s called lump sum final completion package to Julius Berger to do a beautiful job and attach their name.

“It has been 11 years, and we don’t want it to exceed this year. And so it is in your interest that you cooperate,” he further added during the site visit, “I will be asking Julius Berger Nigeria Plc, is there anything that the Minister of Works and NLNG will do to fast track this engagement so that we can arrive at the destination by the 15th of December 2024?” the Minister was quoted as saying.

Umahi, who commended President Tinubu’s commitment towards the completion of the road project, also praised the perseverance of the Bodo-Bonny Peace Committee and the cooperation of the Nigeria LNG (NLNG) that is funding the project.

The Minister also expressed dismay over the attitude of RCC handling the 15km East-West Road (From Port Harcourt Eleme Junction to Onne Port Junction) for the undue delays experienced by the project despite receiving over N40b for the job.

While also warning the contractor that further VOP would no longer be entertained, he said: “We are very sad with the manners and behaviours of this contractor, RCC.

“The Federal Government has paid over N40 billion on this project, and not even one kilometer has been completed. And let me make it very clear that the cost we have given on the review of this project does not attract any VOP.

“There is no VOP on the project as far as the rates are concerned now.”

According to him, the sufferings of the road users were a source of concern which has resulted in finding means to source funds to maintain the road for the time being pending when the company remobilises to the site.

“So we have to see where we can search for funds and get any contractor around here to maintain the road. We need to maintain the road.

“We need to pity the people. It’s not acceptable what our people are passing through for an excuse from RCC that they are importing machines for the job,” he said.

Other projects inspected by the Minister were the dualisation of East-West road section II (subsection II) (Ahoada-Kaiama in Rivers/Bayelsa States) being handled by Setraco Nigeria Ltd and the construction of multiple box culverts at flood-damaged locations along the dualization of East-West road (section II) Ahoada-Kaiama in Rivers/Bayelsa States being handled by Messrs. Rock Result Nigeria Ltd.

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