Barely five months after WikkiTimes published an investigation exposing conspiracy and corruption between the federal and Taraba State governments regarding the construction of Bali-Serti-Gembu road, contractors have mobilised to the site.
Alhaji Awwal Labaran, Village Head of Yelwan Gembu told WikkiTimes that construction commenced 10 days ago.
“The construction is going on. It started from Baruwa (Gashaka) 10 days back,” he said.
TarabaFacts, a Taraba State-based online media platform said heavy trucks were deployed to the site and have commenced work. In a video clip shared by the platform, constructing trucks could be seen working tirelessly on the rocky Gembu road.
WikkiTimes had in August reported that the federal government had taken over the project from the state, pledging to commence full reconstruction of the road.
Babatunde Fashola, the Minister of Works and Housing, in his presentation during the FEC meeting, disclosed that the council approved Bali-Seti-Gembu road.
“This is because you will recall last year the 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”, he had said.
WikkiTimes, 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 contract was awarded.
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 local council in Mambilla Plateau of the Taraba State were subjected 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, WikkiTimes visited the area and found that there was no contractor on the site at the time.
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 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,” said Fashola.
WikkiTimes believes the road, if reconstructed, would of the road ease the sufferings of many residents and commuters jostling on the road.