After WikkiTimes’ investigative story exposing collaborative deceit and corruption between the federal government and Taraba State on the Bali-Serti-Gembu road, the Federal Government has taken over the project from the state, pledging to commence full reconstruction of the road.
This was part of the outcome of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) weekly meeting held on Wednesday at the State House, Abuja presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari.
WikkiTimes had, in an investigative story published on July 8, 2022, revealed how FG and Taraba State, wasted over N36.3 billion but failed to deliver the 230km Bali-Gembu road in the state years after the award of the contract.
The investigation revealed that despite the releases done at various times for the road, many residents fondly called it ‘a Death Trap’, symbolising its deteriorating condition.
The report also documented how the residents of Gembu, the headquarters of Sardauna LG in the Mambilla Plateau of the state were exposed to untold hardships arising from road crashes on the devastating road.
Similarly, it revealed how the federal government re-awarded part of the project several times, which was already said to have been completed by the state government.
Nevertheless, the visit to the area by this medium showed that no contractor was present at the project’s site at the time of the visit.
Babatunde Fashola, the Minister of Works and Housing, in his presentation during the FEC meeting, said the council approved the Bali-Seti road (115 Km).
Babatunde said the federal government has taken over the road and will commence complete construction.
“This is because you will recall last year that council had approved the full reconstruction of Bali- Seti to Gembu under the NNPC tax credit scheme. This is a better-designed road than the one that has a laterite base currently being constructed by the Taraba state government.
The WikkiTimes’ story, however, discovered that the Taraba State, for reconstructing less than 50 per cent of the project (Bali to Sert), paid N16.3billion (89.5%) to PW Nigeria Ltd. out of the Contract Sum of N18.2 billion earlier earmarked for the Bali – Gembu road project.
But Fashola on Wednesday insisted that FG will reconstruct the 115 km Bali Serti road completed two years ago, “We’re going to reconstruct the road. So I just thought it was important to make that clarification. We have a full construction now, instead of part construction that the Taraba state was undertaking”, he added.
The Minister also acknowledged that the federal government would refund the outstanding N2.4 billion to the state, explaining that the refund relates to debts and obligations incurred by the previous administration before the inception of this administration in 2015.
“So today, the council approved N2.470 billion for Taraba state. Because there was an existing approval given before the life of this administration, we will refund up to this last refund. But we will not refund anymore”.
Fashola said that was because the project was awarded before the President subsequently issued the directive that states should be no more intervention on federal roads across the country.