SPECIAL REPORT: Kwara residents groan as projects nominated by Saraki abandoned, poorly implemented
Many accidents have occurred on the Ero Omo Kilanko community road but that of July 15 is still fresh on the minds of residents of the area. It was night, and rains had flooded the newly constructed road.
Before the Toyota mini bus could manoeuvre to avoid the ravaging water on the road, the driver and two commuters on a motorcycle found themselves in a ditch.
"We had to rush them to the hospital that night. It was very unfortunate that two of them suffered permanent damages," Abdulrasaq Quadri, a youth in the community recounted.
The accident was avoidable as the community recently benefited from a N50 million constituency project fund to construct a 4.5 kilometre road in 2017. The project was facilitated by the Senate President, Bukola Saraki.
The Accountant General of the Federation said at least 70 per cent of the funds was released for the project.
At the entrance of the road lies two signages, erected by two companies both laying claim to the project. RKK Inspire Limited and Royal Value Int'l Limited raised their signage almost side by side.
However, when a team from UDEME, an accountability project of the Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism, visited in September, work done on the road was found poorly executed.
The road which was said to have been 'completed' in March 2018 had no sign of new construction. Its light asphalt surface had been eroded in most areas and the contractor only tarred less than one kilometre of the five kilometre specification.
It would be hard to convince a newcomer that it is a new road. One of the youth in the community, who helped mobilise resources as part of community effort to make the road motorable, Abdulrasaq Quadri, lamented.
"It's disappointing that government can do this kind of shabby job for us. See what they called road Ė no drainage, potholes scattered and rendered almost impassable.
"They didn't tell us the nature of the project, we just woke up one day to see contractors start work on the road. When they started, we were happy and our people started dancing to show appreciation, little did we know the joy will be short-lived courtesy of poor execution. We wouldn't have been optimistic if we had known government's intervention will further complicate our lot as a community."
Many residents who spoke to the team said the road was better off without the shabby construction with the level of maintenance the community youth put into it.
Mr Quadri said the community had recorded expenses to the tune of N400, 000 in construction of bridges and drainages before the arrival of Mr Saraki's intervention.
Another youth, who identified himself as Temitope said the contractor only poured asphalt on the road without making efforts to provide a drainage system.
"If they will do this road at all, they need to do the drainage first, water gushing out whenever there's rainfall causes serious hazard. The one they did was just a one sided drainage.
"When we challenged the contractors, they complained the ministry only paid them for a one-side drainage. Even the drainage they constructed, they only used blocks and not concrete. If you trace the road down the street, you'll see the bad road they did."
The road has become a 'headache' for motorists who would prefer it be left the way it was before construction.
"Before they tarred this road, we cried to the government in the past to ensure the road is passable," lamented Mr Bolaji Adebayo, a civil servant. "This road links to many places. Most times, when there's traffic on the main road, people boycott the roundabout and ply this route to Ajase, Offa and others.
"I as a person who plies this road, when they did this road, we thought they haven't completed the road, but we are surprised that less than two weeks, we started seeing potholes, the drainage was not properly done. As you can see, this road was done in March but instead of improvement, the state of the road has gone from bad to worse. The hardship we have faced recently is more than what it used to be before they touched it."
On this day, he couldn't drive as his car developed fault. He told the team he spends about N10, 000 more on maintenance of the car monthly. This cost, which he claims he incurred due to the bad condition of the road, is N7, 000 higher than before.
UDEME could not reach RRK Limited as the number quoted on its website rkkinspireservices.com was not reachable.
As observed on the website, the company may not be a construction company as it has no traces of such. What is quoted on its website is, "We deal on safety equipment wears".
Meanwhile, Royal Value does not have social media presence. Neither does its address or contact exist anywhere.
Like that of Ero Omo Kilanko, other road projects facilitated by Mr Saraki are either being poorly constructed, abandoned or non-existent.
OTHER POORLY EXECUTED PROJECTS
When Ismade Integrated Nigeria Limited completed the tarring of the Agbari Gidoma Road in Ilorin West Local Government, the community organised a feast to thank the contractor.
Little did they know that the road construction was poorly done and that their joy would only live for few months.
Quoted as 'construction and rehabilitation,' the N50 million project was part of those Mr Saraki facilitated to his constituency in 2017.
When UDEME visited in September, the less than one kilometre tarring had started washing away. Again, instead of five kilometres, the road construction which stopped at the Mahadul Arabic School, was just about one kilometre.
Residents say the construction started in February and ended in May 2018. Sheu Babatunde, the chairman of the community association said the work of the contractor was not satisfactory as the road started developing holes almost immediately after construction.
"Based on the need assessment that brought the job, the contractor has not satisfied the yearning of the community. Firstly, going by the level of water causing serious erosion for the community, the drainage is not good at all. In fact, 70 per cent of the drainage was constructed by the community.
"When the contractor came, we told him that the heavy volume of water coming, the drainage will not be able to hold it. There was need to expand and make it, more solid. We had a block drainage and we told him we wanted concrete but he did almost nothing.
"Last year, they did a levelling job promising that they will complete it this year. They came and told us later that their specification is surface dressing of one kilometre road. We requested for the paperwork and it turned out to be true. They told us it would be on three levels but that is far from the output."
Ismade Integrated Nigeria Limited does not have a known website, its Facebook page named after the company has no content.
Both projects, road construction in Ero Omo Kilanko and Agbari Gidoma were supervised by the Ministry of Agriculture.
In a telephone interview, the spokesperson of the Ministry, Kayode Oyeleye, said officials who could produce details of the projects retired some months back.
"Those projects like the road for instance, details are better obtained from two sources in the ministry, the office of the permanent secretary and then the office of procurement. Interestingly the permanent secretary that would have been in charge since you said it was completed about four months ago retired two months ago, that was September ending.
"So my advice for you is this, I don't have the contact of the new permanent secretary nor do I 'frequent' the procurement office, it is advisable to go in to the ministry by yourself without necessarily going through anyone.
"In addition, the information officer who probably could have assisted to shed light on this only retired also a month ago. So you will be dealing with new set of people but I think there should be documents, files for them to refer to talk about this or that. So I will advise, just come into the ministry by yourself and say you want to see the new perm sec and they should be able to make reference to what had happened before."
When PREMIUM TIMES visited the Agric Ministry, the Deputy Director, Procurement Office declined to talk formally about the projects.
"Procurement department does not do supervision of contracts. What you are talking about would be on oversight function, due diligence and these projects you are talking about, I don't know about them because I just resumed here last week. So you may know, procurement department doesnít award contracts, it only processes contracts awarded by appropriate authorities.
"I am yet to even know about the department and what their functions are, I resumed here last week and have been going to series of meetings. I am the wrong person for you to come and ask questions because i donít know much," he said.
Budgeted at N100 million in 2017 appropriation, Sapati Road in Afon Local Government was supposed to be a solace to Afon community in Asa Local Government of Kwara State but the less than half-done project turned out otherwise.
One of Mr Saraki's 2017 projects, the construction, by specification, is supposed to include an asphalting and construction of drainage for the community.
However, while about 300 metres of the drainage has been constructed, no part of the road have been asphalted causing more hardship for road users.
According to FOI response from the Federal Ministry of Environment, N70 million out N100 million has been released for the project. The document captured the project, undertaken by M/S Bukas Engineering LTD, as 96 per cent complete.
What UDEME found on ground ws less than 40 per cent of work done.
Hassan Kabir, a motorcyclist and resident said the poor condition of the road led to increased fares.
He said, "We usually pack at that entrance and trek in. They tried but this is not what we expect.
"In fact, okada riders have stopped plying the road. The few ones there are charging high prices. For instance, a ride which is supposed to be N100 or N50 is now N200 or N250.
"Whenever it rains, we don't even pass there at all. Most vehicles that dare get stuck in the mud. You won't even see the road, it will all be covered in flood," he lamented.
POORLY EXECUTED, NON-EXISTENT PROJECTS
Like Mr Saraki, the lawmaker representing Offa/Oyun/Ifelodun federal constituency in the House of Representatives Olarinoye Olayonu has some questions to answer on some of his projects tracked by the Premium Times and UDEME team.
Even though Muu Road in Offa local government area has improved traffic flow in the area, a significant part of it is already washing off.
Said to have been completed in November 2017, the project was constructed by the Nigeria Building and Road Research Institute according to the signage.
While over 80 per cent of the road has no drainage system, the poorly asphalted road has given in to water running on the surface. This has left many parts of the road with potholes.
However, if residents of Igosun in Offa Local Government Area had a poorly constructed road, they would have been happy with their lawmaker but this was not the case for the tranquil community.
The 1.5 kilometre Igosun Road was quoted alongside another, Station road both in Offa, both budgeted at N25 million. As a 2016 project, 80 per cent of fund for the projects have been released but there was nothing in Igosun community to show for this amount.
"They didn't do anything for us," Murtala Raji, the Ojogo of Igosun land told Premium Times and UDEME team. What we have as potholed road was constructed during the 1999-2003 tenure. That is the only road we have. We didnít see anything at all. No lawmaker came to tell us anything about any project.
"We are suffering from the nonexistence of road. All our roads are bad. Even that single road we have is failing. "
When the team also visited the community, the story was the same. Kazeem Elemoso, a motorcyclist said residents abort journeys due to the condition of the only road in the community.
"Most times, we wish we go to neighbouring towns but we abort such plans because of bad roads. Sometimes we turn back on the way. We even spend a lot to maintain our bikes because of the bad roads," he lamented.
Meanwhile, about three kilometres to Igosun is the one kilometre Station Road completed and opened for motorists.
When contacted, Mr Olayonu said the Igosun road project was constructed not at Igosun road but Igosun road area which is adjacent power line church not far from Adesoye College junction.
"We did the tarring around that place. Go back there and check," he said.
"What was done is surface dressing and not asphalt dressing because of paucity of funds," he quickly added.
He refused to comment on the observations raised on the poor execution of the project in MUU road but instead directed the reporter to the implementing agency for further clarification.
Leaders of Civil Society Organisation (CSOs) who spoke with UDEME bemoaned the lawmakers' and contractors' dubiousness.
The chief executive officer of Public and Private Development Centre (PPDC) Nkem Ilo, said there is a need to carry members of communities along at the initiation stage of a project.
"The problem with abandonment and poor execution of public project is worrisome and I think it is time government should take it serious.
"Government should open up the disclosure practice for contracting, and when I mean opening it, not opening it up just to the eliteor people in Abuja or Port Harcourt, Lagos, but also opening it up to the citizens they are carrying out these projects for.
"It is to ensure that those processes are followed, that contracts are disclosed by nature and that people at the community level, the end users or the said beneficiaries of those services are also involved in the process because one of the things you would find is that majority of those people in the community will tell you that they were not even aware of these s.
Rose Gyar, the director general, Global Centre for Human Empowerment and Entrepreneurship Development shares similar sentiment.
In cases where the government does less than promised, she wants the citizens to ask questions.
"Citizens must begin to ask questions and hold those responsible at all levels accountable. This can only be possible however where they are sensitised and educated to be aware that it's their civic rights.
ďThe citizens themselves must rise up to the responsibility of protecting projects around their communities because it is with public funds that the projects are executed," she says.