According to a report by SaharaReporters, an investigation has revealed how the government of Cross River State awarded a road project worth N42 billion to a company with no traceable address.
In 2018, the state governor, Ben Ayade, commenced the construction of spaghetti flyover and rehabilitation and dualisation of the Calabar-Odukpani Highway.
The project had appeared in the state's 2018 budget, named “Budget of Kinetic Crystallization”.
The state first earmarked N18 billion for the project.
In the 2019 budget, N16 billion was appropriated for the project while that of 2020 had N8 billion.
While the project remains critical to the people of the state, nothing tangible has been done despite the huge amount of money budgeted.
Ayade had earlier estimated that the project would be completed by 2019 but later shifted the completion deadline to April 2020.
Findings by the CrossRiverWatch, however, showed that the highly-anticipated project remains in shambles with only skeletal work currently ongoing.
The state government had originally contracted Zeon Engineering and Consulting in 2018 to execute the project.
But two years after it commenced work, the company ditched the project, further worsening the condition of the road.
Amid the growing concerns over the parlous state of the road, the state government engaged Zeka Global Company Limited, an indigenous construction firm, to continue the project.
Findings, however, revealed that the newly contracted company was only incorporated on January 22, 2020, according to the Corporate Affairs Commission, without any previous track records.
The investigation showed the purported address of the company as No. 9 Maple Street, Calabar South Local Government Area, a residential apartment.
This was even as no resident in the building or around the street knows the company.
The state government has also kept the process of awarding the contract to the company a top-secret, raising suspicion of irregularities by the authorities in several quarters.
Government officials contacted on the matter declined to comment while Engr. Dane Osim Asu, the Commissioner for Works in the state, threatened to sue CrossRiverWatch for inquiring about the contract.
The poor condition of the Calabar-Odukpani Highway has worsened the plights of commuters and traders around the area.
Before the project started, there was a car park where the roundabout would be. It had to make way for the construction vehicles.
Vincent Ekpe said: “You see, Odukpani Local Government serves as a border. When you’re coming from Cameroon, you land here; Akwa Ibom, you land here; Port Harcourt, Bayelsa, and the rest, you still land here. The only source of revenue was this park and it has been destroyed because of the project here.”
A butcher who is also a road user, Elijah Uko stated: “I don’t know if they will deliver this year. They have entered the other side. The road is too small; they need to expand it. I can’t even see where the flyover is terminating. I still don’t know if it’s flyover or walkover based on what I’m seeing on the ground.”
Daniel Okon, a stone merchant at the proposed site of the so-called spaghetti flyover has his doubts about the project.
“Where is the flyover? I have not seen any flyover here; we just hear it but can’t see it. We hear it on radio and see it on billboards,” he said.