-Urge Federal Ministry of Works to bring contractor back on site
-We’ll be back on site soon, Mr Fashola, Chairman, Fountain Douglande Ltd
Residents of Ife Oluwa Community Development Association (CDA) in Igbogbo area of Igbogbo/Bayeku Local Council Development Area (LCDA) of Ikorodu Division, Lagos, Southwest, Nigeria, have called on the Federal Ministry on Works to come to their rescue over the abandoned road project in the community.
They alleged that construction works on the main road which leads into the community, has been abandoned by the contractor.
The community’s outcry was coming on the heel of the delay in the completion of the 330metre road project that is expected to be completed in 12 weeks but still under construction after two years while the contractor is nowhere to be found.
According to the residents, many casualties have been recorded on the road due to the abandoned status of the project while their houses are also under serious threat due to the contractor’s excavation activities which allegedly is exposing their houses to erosion during rainfall.
They also cried out that the coming rain will make residents’ lives unbearable if the contractor do not move back to the site to complete the project.
Despite that the Paul Palmer road was the first to be facilitated by the representative of the Ikorodu Federal Constituency, Rep. Babajimi Benson, in this Legislative session, but the contractor handling Igbe – Oreyo road which the lawmaker also facilitated its rehabilitation in Igbe axis of the lgbogbo afterwards has since been completed and commissioned by Gov. Babajide Sanwo – Olu.
Work has also been progressing well on the Shams-el-Deen-Sabo road which links four streets in the axis and was recently flagged off for rehabilitation by Hon. Benson.
The contract for the rehabilitation of the Paul Palmer road was awarded to the Fountain Dauglade Limited by the Federal Ministry of Works & Housing, Headquarters, Mabushi, Abuja, in 2019.
This road connects Igbe road and also Lateef Sodeinde, Ganiu Alade, Kolapo Ogunyemi, Adabonyan and Community Streets among others.
It was gathered that the Chairman of the construction company which the contract was awarded to is one Mr Fashola, whom the community members claimed to be an uncle to the Minster for Works & Housing and former Governor of Lagos State, Mr Babatunde Fashola, SAN.
According to Fountain Douglade Limited, the company is incorporated under the laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to act as Civil Engineering and is registered with the Lagos State Government Public Procurement Agency as a contractor.
It was claimed that the company is a comprehensive engineering, construction, operation and maintenance outfit with vast experience in highway design and construction.
According to residents, the contractor moved to site on January 15, 2019, to start the construction but that to their surprise, the project was abandoned about two months after, precisely on November 23, 2019.
This, according to the report gathered, compelled the community to forward a petition to the Minister of Works in Abuja on January 23, 2020, and also copied the representative of the Ikorodu Federal Constituency who facilitated the project (Hon. Babajimi Benson).
Following the community’s petition, it was alleged that the residents were told by the Ministry to withdraw the petition if they want the contract to continue.
Sequel to this, in a letter dated May 19, 2020, and signed by one Engr. Obasanmi Obayomi for the Fountain Douglade Limited, the company also appealed to the community to withdraw their petition.
A portion of the letter states, “We, hereby, appeal to you to write a withdrawal letter which (to) state that the contractor are (is) back to site with all our expertise and equipment”.
“Sir, we wish to introduce best road construction in the Area in order to offer Paul Palmer road Mega standard status”, the letter added.
It was also stated by community chieftains that representatives of the company also visited them to appeal for the withdrawal of the road, promising that they would turn a good leaf.
Following this appeals, the CDA resolved, after a special meeting, to withdraw the petition and in a letter dated May 19, 2020, the petition was withdrawn in expectation that the contractor and the Ministry would live up to their pledges.
Though, the contractor moved back to site but only to abandoned the project a week after re – commencement and till date, nothing is being done on the road.
This unfortunate experience which, according to report, have inflicted several injuries on residents and placed man properties under serious threat, made the community directed another petition, dated January 6, 2021, to the facilitator of the project.
In the petition, the residents accused Rep. Benson of abandoning them with the problems that the contractor has created for them on the project.
THE IMPACT visited the community last weekend following the outcry of the residents to the government to compel the contractor handling the reconstruction work, to return to site and complete the project.
Chieftains of the community spoke with our reporter on behalf of the community and later took him on tour of the abandoned project to see reasons for their outcry.
Mr Tobi Awobajo, Chairman, Ife Oluwa Community Development Association (CDA), commended the facilitator of the project, whom he said that the community described as their ‘messiah’, for listening to their request and facilitated the road for repair.
Unfortunately, the community chieftain said that the attitude of the contractor, who he identified as one Mr Fashola and whom he said is an uncle to the Minister of Works, has made the residents’ joy to be short-lived.
“We thank the facilitator of this road, Hon. Babajimi Benson. We are very happy with him because we see him as our messiah.
“Unfortunately, the person handling the construction through a firm, Fountain Douglade Limited, one Mr Fashola who is an uncle to the Minister of Works and former Governor of Lagos State, Mr Babatunde Raji Fashola, SAN.
“The construction firm signpost was erected on 15th of September, 2019, and the length of the road is 330metres and it is not long at all, while the contract duration was put at 12 weeks.
“The work started in earnest and later got to a stage where nothing was being done before the it was completely abandoned.
“The company that is handling the project is a very terrible company, so also are the workers that are working on the site. I have never seen such a person like the man that owns the company handling the project before in my life”.
Explaining why the community petitioned the Minister for Works and later withdrew it, the CDA Chairman said:
“We did not know the reason that made the workers stopped working and when the residents challenged them, they told us that there was no more fund to continue the project and this took us by surprise”, he said.
“That was what prompted us to write the petition to the Federal Ministry of Works in Abuja and when the letter got to them on 23rd of January, 2020, they told us that we must withdraw the petition if we want the work to continue”, he added.
“That prompted us to call for an emergence CDA meeting to discuss the matter and we agreed to withdraw the petition.
“The company handling the contract also wrote a letter to us requesting us to withdraw our petition and we wrote the letter of withdrawal same day.
“Representatives of the company came to us to plead for our understanding which we accepted”.
Mr Awobajo said that the community’s action made the Ministry released some funds to the contractor but that to their surprise, work stopped again on the road after a week.
“It was after that that the Federal Ministry of Works released some monies to them (construction company) but we did not know the exact amount. It was after this that workers returned to the site.
“Unfortunately, they only worked for a week before vanishing again. During the week of their resumption, they made use of inferior materials”, he alleged.
“They again told us that they stopped because they have not been mobilized which was contrary to the information that we got that the contractor had received some money.
“Since then, they have abandoned the site and all our efforts in reaching them proved abortive.
The Chairman, further speaking on the contractor, said:
“The contractor is not being nice to us at all and he is an uncle to the Minister of Works. The community representative on the project, Alhaji W. Yusuf, always calls him.
“He made many unusual and unnecessary comments whenever he was called to the extent of disrespecting our representative who facilitated the work.
“We have also been calling those that he handed the construction work to up till last Wednesday (April 14) and they told us that they will be coming to see us but we have told them that we will do what is necessary on our part.
He also alleged that many residents have suffered one injury or the other due to the way the contractor abandoned the road and called on the government to ensure that the project is completed in good time.
“This project has caused lots of accidents for our residents. We want the government to intervene and ensure that the contractor is back on site to complete the project”.
The representative of the community dealing with the Rep. Benson and the contractor, who is also an Ex – Officio of the CDA, Alhaji Abdulwaheed Abiodun Yussuf, also speaking, said that representatives of the company told the community that the project was awarded to them as zero contract.
He also said that the company was paid mobilisation following the petition that was written by the community to the Ministry of Works after stoppage of work.
“When we asked them reason for the stoppage of work, we were told that they got the project as zero contract which implies that they must do the work up to 40% before they are paid certain percentage of the mobilization fee.
“As I am speaking with you, the job that they have done is not up to 25%.
“The community monitored the file from Lagos to Abuja and found out that they have been paid mobilization fee and we have been hearing that this man (Mr Fashola) did not pay his workers after collecting the money and he is nowhere to be found. We have only been speaking with him on phone.
“The company was actually paid following our petition to the Minister on the stoppage of work on the road.
“We have actually met with him (Mr Fashola) but whenever he wants to play his game, he would just disappear”.
He said that the abandoned project has also caused severe damages to the foundations of many houses in the community.
“If you go round, you will see the damages the construction work has done to many of our houses.
He also alleged that Fashola’s failure to pay his workers led to his arrest on the order of his workers when they learnt that he has been paid mobilization fee but failed to pay them and for the construction materials that they took on loan.
“We heard through his workers that he refused to pay them for materials that they collected from people when he was paid. But that is not our concern. That must be the reason the workers used the officers of the Area N to arrest him before he could release sum fund to them.
“As soon as he released the fund to them, those people that they owed came around to collect their money and again, the project was abandoned.
“Everyone saw the suppliers when they supplied cement, granite and iron rod among many other construction materials. They owed many people, including his workers who don’t know where to locate him.
The intermediary between the community and the facilitator, Rep. Babajimi Benson, also said that the community notified the lawmaker on the challenges that they have been facing on the road and that he has always been intervening.
This man (Rep. Benson) came to do us favour in the community and we don’t know why the company is constituting an obstacle to his good job”.
He pleaded with the government to ensure that the contractor returns to complete the project before the rain start and makes the road totally impassable and also prevent houses whose foundations have been exposed, from collapsing.
Mr Owolabi Mojeed, Secretary, Ife Oluwa CDA, said that the community wants the project to be completed as soon as possible.
“We want the road to be completed as soon as possible because it is no longer accessible for residents when coming or going out of the community.
“There are some of our residents whose houses have been partly demolished and now under threat. The quick completion of the road will go a long way in preventing their properties from collapsing.
Mr Ibarhim R.K., the community Publicity Secretary, said that the contractor still owes him for the tools that he supplied his men.
“I supplied them tools, including wheel barrows, shovels, diggers and other equipment and they are still owing me money for that.
“They still have about N24, 000 to pay me and there are still many others that they are still owing within the community, including food sellers that sold food for the construction workers on credit with the expectation that they would pay them when the contractor paid them.
Mr Femi Akinpelu, a member of the CDA, was of the view that the government should withdraw the contract from Fountain Douglade Limited if possible and if not, they should be forced to return to site to complete the road.
He also alleged that the contractor has so far done a substandard work and that many residents have been victims of the shoddy job done on the road.
“If it is possible, the government should change the contractor and if not, he should be forced to return to the site.
“Even, the job that he has done so far is substandard and we have many residents who have injured due to the state of the road”, he alleged.
“The way the project has been abandoned is detrimental to the residents’ safety. It’s always slippery whenever its rains. We have many residents who have been taken to the hospital because of injuries sustained on the road due to the state at which it was abandoned”.
He also stated that some food vendors in the community that served the workers have not been paid.
Other chieftains of the community at the CDA meeting were Mr Olajuwon Odunniyi, Vice Chairman, Prince Shamsideen Saka, Welfare Officer, Mr Sunday Kekere – Ekun, Financial Secretary, Alhaji W.A. Yusuf, Ex – Officio and Alh. M. Adabonyan, Ex– Officio.
Mrs Morenike Ibrahim, a resident of Ife Oluwa CDA, who has protect the foundation of her house with sand bags which is also aiding her movement in and out of the house which has been cut off from the road, said that the present condition of the road has adversely affected the community economy while many have also been injured while making use of the road.
She pleaded with the government to intervene and ensure that the contractor complete the road in good time.
“The negative effects of the abandoned project are too much on us. The project is now going to two years now and it has affected many businesses, including my husband’s shop. He has not been able to open it due to the abandoned construction work” , she said.
“Because of the state of the road which has made entry into our homes difficult, I fell down some times ago and broke my hand and there are many other residents who has had similar experiences”, she added.
“We want the government to help us complete the abandoned project because we have had incidents of many young and old people been injured on the road.
“About a week ago, my husband (pointing at him) also fell down and rolled many times. I had to call people to assist me him in getting him on his feet because he couldn’t stand up. That is why I have to buy cement bags and filled it with sand to aid movement in and out of the house easier”, Mrs Ibrahim said.
Mrs Romoke Olawuwo, a resident of 4, Paul Parmer street, also told THE IMPACT that she and her neighbours have been victims of the abandoned project.
“I have suffered fracture on my leg due to the abandoned project, so were my neighbours too. My dad too is a victim”, she told our reporter.
“You can see my leg which was fractured (pointing to her leg).
“Other road projects awarded after ours are either completed or under construction. We want the government to intervene and ensure that our road is completed”.
Speaking with the contractor, Mr Fashola, he said that the project is not entirely abandoned but that his workers left site due to lack of funding.
He spoke with our reporter on phone at the weekend.
“The project is not entirely abandoned. We only have delay due to money and we are working on it”, he said.
“The only challenge is funding which we do not have. Once we have the needed fund, we are going to move back to site to complete the project”.
He stated that the COVID – 19 lockdown, which according to him, affected most part of last year and every part of the economy, also adversely affected the project.
“You know that we contended with the COVID – 19 lockdown last year and that also affected government activities and our project too”, he added.
As stated by the Ife Oluwa CDA, Mr Fashola admitted that he got some money as mobilization fee but that said that it was used in settling the debts he was owing suppliers that supplied materials for the project.
“Well, I do not know why you are calling me but we were given some money which was used in paying those that we collected materials from for the project.
“Personally, I do not have the fund to finance the project and those guys that the job was given to are not ready to work without money.
“We are faced with many demands, including the ones from the members of the community who are asking us to settle them”, he alleged.
He said that everything been equal, they are planning to move back to site soon.
“We are working on how to get the fund and move back to site soon. Next week possibly” , he said.
Attempts to get Rep Babajimi Benson’s reaction on the abandoned road and the concerns of the residents of the community proved abortive.