OrderPaperToday – The Senate Committee on Federal Capital Territory (FCT) has said former President Olusegun Obasanjo and erstwhile Minister of the territory, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, awarded the Abuja Rail Project in 2007 at an inflated cost by millions dollars.
The committee also said the project was awarded based on uncalculated estimates with neither a design nor Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Chinese firm, CCE, handling it.
Accordingly, the committee led by Senator Dino Melaye (APC, Kogi West), has demanded the refund of the sum of 195,878,296.74 dollars being the sum allegedly funneled into private pockets.
The committee said the contract, which stood at 60.67 kilometres, was inflated by ten million dollars per kilometres even as the original length of the project was later reduced to 45 kilometres without refund of the cost for the 15.67 kilometres cut off.
Addressing the committee during inspection of the work in Abuja Monday, Project Manager of the company, Etim Abak, said the contract was signed by the then FCT Minister without design and MOU, saying it was carried out based on what he simply identified as conceptual design.
El-rufai who served as FCT Minister under Obasanjo is currently the Governor of Kaduna State under the All Progressives Congress (APC).
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.
Chairman of the committee, Senator Dino Melaye, while speaking at the site, said his research showed that rail project was inflated by over ten million dollars per kilometre, wondering why such corrupt act was perpetrated by the handlers of the project.
Melaye who said the entire project was shrouded in fraud, noted that the contract sum was 841.645,898 dollars with project completion period put at 48 months.
He further noted that the scope of work was 60.67km standard gauge, with double railway tracks and associated permanent way within FCT, .
He expressed worries that the project, which length initially stood at 60.67 kilometres, was later reduced to 45. 245 kilometres without reduction in the cost of the project initially paid for.
He said: ‘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.”
He questioned the rational behind the government’s loan of 500 million dollars from Exim Bank of China for the project, saying the money the federal government had so far injected into the project was far enough to execute the entire project.
“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.
Melaye, who spoke further said: ” 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, CCE.
“We have six countries and the average cost per kilometre, non is above four million dollars per kilometre. Why is the Nigerian project is costing 13.8 approximately 14 million dollars per kilometre.”