ULO consultants, the contracting firm that handled the Asaba airport project from 2008 to 2017 has allegedly collected a total sum of N24.7billion from Delta state government from the commencement date to 2017 when the company director, Uche Luke Okpuno, backed out from the contract.
Also, for the rehabilitation of the runway and taxi way, the state government has allegedly paid the construction firm not less than N3.1billion which ULO was expected to complete within three months but ran for over two and a half years but could only deliver 24percent of the job.
Other ancilliary payments made to ULO consultants gulped a total sum of N368million paid for various services rendered to the state government in respect of the Asaba project construction.
Similarly, ULO consultants collected a total sum of N7.4billion for the dualisation of the sector C of Ughelli/Asaba dualisation project, the project which ULO could not execute one percent and totally abandoned.
The billions paid to ULO were revealed by Accountant General of the state, Cyril Agbele, when he was invited by the Delta state house of assembly committee on works to give evidence of payments made to ULO consultants as part of investigations into the failed projects executed by the ULO contractors in Delta state.
Agbele told the committee headed by Evance Iwurie, who represents Ethiope east state constituency in the state house of assembly that all requests made by the state ministry of works to be paid to the ULO contractors were honoured and ULO was paid accordingly.
He said all the requests received were properly backed by certificates, adding that without certificates from the ministry, his office would turn down every payment request. He added that it is only mobilisation fee that his office would pay without certificate from the ministry of works.
Iwurie, who expressed displeasure over the quality of job executed by ULO, said his committee has the total amount over paid to ULO, noting that the committee has been following due process in the business of investigating the project executed by ULO.
“We are not satisfied with the conduct of this contractor. Any incompetent contractor discovered, we will not fold our hands and allow the money of Delta state go. Deltans should know that the people they elected are working, we are doing everything possible according to the laws of Nigeria.
“All the money belongs to Delta. We are serving Delta state. The committee is very disappointed with ULO. The company has been very evasive. ULO has refused to honour our invitation and give us documents. They have no respect for the house members.
“Since November, the company refused to send us documents which we requested from them. All they have continuously say is we are having a meeting with the presidency, we are traveling to London.’’
JBI Tech, the intermediary consultant between Delta state government and the ULO consultants, also poured venom on ULO, saying ULO failed to adhere to standard specified in the contractual agreement.
Engr. Akere Kola, who heads the JBI Teach, told the house committee members that the Delta state government made a fatal mistake for given the contract to ULO, noting that for 29 months after taking the runway and taxiway rehabilitation project, ULO could only execute 24 percent of the job, a project initially agreed to run for three months.
He said: “Highway surface highly irregular, we tried to assist him to get the contract properly done but he did not accept our advice. The advice given by the NigerianCivil Aviation Authority (NCAA) was jettisoned and he introduced his own idea. ULO is completely incompetent, we noticed his incompetence from the beginning when the contract was given to him.”
In all the accusations, ULO has refused to respond to calls and text messages sent to him to hear his story of the failed contract.
Austin Ayemidejor, the Special Project Director, concurred with the presentation of JBI Tech, saying he had no further addition but the submissions of JBI Tech were accepted as the situation surrounding the project.