Investigation: Contractor abandons over N200m road project awarded by National Biosafety Agency in Kano
Elijah Akoji and Aliyu Inuwa Mansir
There were feelings of excitement among the people of the Tudun-Yola community in Gwale LGA of Kano state in 2021 when the news for the construction of the only road connecting their community to other communities in the LGA got to them. If there was anything the people of Tudun-Yola Community ever longed for, it was the construction of the feeder road which has been left in poor condition since 2017 despite being one of the largest and most populated political ward in the LGA.
The National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA), an agency under the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology, in 2021 budgeted a total sum of N250 million for the construction of Tudun-Yola Road in Gwale LGA, under Gwale Federal Constituency represented by Hon. Lawan Abdullahi Ken-Ken in the 9th National Assembly.
Abdandoned Section of Tudun-Yola Road Tudun-Yola Photo Credit-Aliyu Mansir
The procurement law made it clear that in the award and execution of a project, budgeting is the first stage of concern after which the advertisement of bid and tender gives room for qualified and interested contractors the opportunity to apply and indicate interest for the project, and then the review of contractors document stage such as the company tax clearance and active registration status with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) among other.
While the only evidence obtained by SOLACEBASE is the ACTIVE Status of the company on CAC website, an evidence that shows its active remittance of its tax clearance as stipulated by the procurement law, no available evidence to show that the project was advertised for qualified companies to bid for the project in disregard for the procurement law.
Record of payment obtained from an open payment contracting platform Govespend revealed that the contract was awarded to GRAVY TRAIN INTERNATIONAL SERVICES LIMITED incorporated in ABUJA, Nigeria with Registration Number 1253207, and it was registered on April 7, 2015. The company’s registered office address is NO 22, BAMENDA STREET ZONE 3, WUSE ABUJA.
Tudun-Yola Photo Credit-Aliyu Inuwa Mansir
Against the procurement law, record revealed that Gravy Train International Service Limited on the 21st of December 2021 received a total payment of N205,432,737 million with the payment code 1000888480-6 in one tranch.
Company search of Gravy Train International Service Limited further shows that the company is only registered as an Import and Export of General Goods company, which has nothing to do with construction work, yet was paid over N200 million for the construction of Tudun-Yola road
in Gwale LGA in Kano State.
Road Cost Estimate
According to a report by the World Bank, the cost of constructing a rural road in Nigeria ranges from $100,000 to $500,000 per kilometer, depending on the type and level of service. However, this report does not specify the standards and specifications of the road, nor does it mention the cost of drainage, street lights, and road marks. Therefore, we need to look at some other sources to estimate these costs.
Based on some estimates from the Nigerian Society of Engineers, the cost of constructing a single lane road with drainage and culverts in Nigeria ranges from $200,000 to $300,000 per kilometer, depending on the soil conditions and the level of engineering design. This cost includes the earthworks, the sub-base and base course, the asphalt or concrete pavement, the drainage pipes and structures, and the culverts. However, this estimate does not include the cost of street lights and road marks.
Abandoned Road Project Politically Motivated
As days ran into weeks and weeks into months and years, residents keep expecting the return of the contractor back on site, but the contractor did not show up to continue or complete the abandoned road project in Tudun-Yola community.
Frustrated by the abandonment of the road project, Abba Gyaran-Kasa, the youth leader of Tudun-Yola, who also owns a provision shop by the road, could not hold back his pain when he shared first-hand information with SOLACEBASE.
Abba Gyarankasa (Youth Leader) Tudun-Yola Photo Credit-Aliyu Inuwa Mansir
“This is a project which is less than a kilometer, it’s just a feeder road meant to connect Tudun-Yola ward with other political wards in the LGA. When the project started, it came with so much excitement for everyone, this was supposed to be a breakthrough for us.
“From our findings we were told it was a project sponsored by Hon. Lawan Abdullahi Ken-Ken in the 9th NASS, the signpost captured it together with the name of the contractor and the agency funding the project,. The project started and was only abandoned halfway, leaving residents stranded at the mercy of potholes,” Abba said.
“When we sought intervention as to why the project was abandoned halfway, we also found out that Hon. Lawan Abdullahi Ken-Ken had told residents and leaders of the community that he was going to complete the project when he wins his reelection bid. So, now that he has lost his reelection, we have lost hope in the completion of the project,” Abba added.
Nasidi Hamis, the Dagachi (Ward Head) of Tudun-Yola ward, described the neglect of the road project as politically motivated.
Nasidi Hamis (Dagashin) Tudun-Yola Photo Credit-Aliyu Inuwa Mansir
“Tudun-Yola is one of the biggest political wards in Gwale LGA, on this road, especially now that it’s the rainy season, there are many accidents recorded here, if not daily, weekly, we record at least 3 to 4 accidents on this road, that makes it like a daily occurrence.
“We were so excited when the news of the road came to us, we could not hold back our joy and as such, we volunteered manpower to help in the construction work. I feel terrible about the condition of the road as we should be plying on a very smooth road with good drainages and streetlights, here we are in 2023, still talking about a 2021 road project,” Hamis said.
Also speaking to SOLACEBASE Sulaiman Abdulkadir, a resident of Tudun-Yola community, narrated how the poorly constructed and abandoned road project is causing them more damage and placing them at risk when driving or riding on the road.
Sulaiman Abdulkarim (Residents) Tudun-Yola Photo Credit-Aliyu Inuwa Mansir
“It’s over a year since I stopped seeing the contractor or anyone working on the road project, I kept thinking maybe the resources paid to them has finished and that they will return to continue the project. It was in December 2022 that I gave up completely because the election was close and no one will focus on the road project at that time.
“I have both a car and motorcycle, but because of the bad condition of the road, I prefer to use my motorcycle than using my car, this is because of the stress and damages the road always causes to my car; the government should not have started the road if they weren’t going to complete it. Leaving the road in such a condition is causing more discomfort to residents,” Abdulkadir said.
Agency Unwilling To Account For Project As Contractor is Unreachable.
When this reporter reached out to the Head of the Procurement Department of the National Biosafety Management Agency, Haruna Nuhu, he said, “For now, really can’t provide details of projected executed within and outside this agency for now, it’s just a new department, but prior to now, all projects have been executed from the office of the Director admin and finance of the agency,”
Rebbeca Oamen, the Director of Admin and Finance of the agency did not return the text messages and WhatsApp messages this reporter sent to her private line.
When she was later contacted via the telephone, Mrs. Oamen insisted she would not speak on the phone to a stranger, and requested that the reporter should come to the agency’s headquarters in Abuja if he needs a response.
“It is very unfortunate I can’t say anything to you or respond to any of your questions on the phone, the little I will say is that the agency is mandated by the law to execute any project money has been provided for. So, I don’t know what you are talking about of an uncompleted road project since 2021, if you need any information, you may have to come to the office let see how we can help you,” Oamen said.
When the reporter visited Mrs. Oamen’s office at the agency’s headquarters located at National Park Headquarters, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua Road, Abuja, Federal Capital Territory, she only confirmed that the project had been executed as procured.
Present Look of Already Constructed Section of Tudun-Yola Road Photo Credit-Aliyu Inuwa Mansir
“It’s good that you finally made it to confirm your information from the office directly, the project you are asking for was awarded in 2021 and was completed in the same year, we made all payments accordingly to the contractor, and we followed up the project from the beginning to finish, this is all I can tell you about the project,” Oamen said.
Oamen could not provide evidence of the call for a bid, pictorial evidence of the construction process, and the completion phase of the project when asked by this reporter.
The only record available about Gravy Train International Service Limited is its registration details which revealed the nature of the business the company does. It also named the directors and
shareholders of the company which includes, Aderonke Christiana Fanibe and Olatunji Bakare.
The same directors are also listed as the shareholders. There is no other record online on location or contact information of the company for verification.
While this reporter made an effort to verify the address of the company as indicated on the CAC website NO 22, BAMENDA STREET ZONE 3, WUSE ABUJA, no such company was found in the location of the address.
This story is produced with support from Civic Media Lab