The Senate Committee on States and Local Government Administration and the House of Representatives Committee on Special duties on Tuesday commenced inspection of Federal Government’s N300 million intervention projects in Bakassi Local Government of Cross River.
Sen. Abdullahi Gumel, the Chairman, Senate Committee on States and Local Government Administration, told newsmen at the projects’ sites that oversight of Bakassi projects became necessary following allegations of negligence.
He said the committees were on ground to inspect projects carried out by the Border Communities Development Agency (BCDA) of the Federal Government and to see the efforts made by the state government in that regard.
He said “the Border Communities Development Agency is an intervention agency and having spent about N300 million here, I am impressed with what we have seen on ground.
“The communities have primary health care centre, border community markets, outpost, schools, water projects and new roads.
“So, the impression created that our brothers and sisters displaced from Bakassi are abandoned is not true, you have all seen as much too.
“The Federal Government is working and in line with the change mantra, we are going to do more in this area.”
Gumel gave the assurance that the National Assembly, particularly the Senate, would continue to play its part by way of oversight, enactment of laws and improved funding to ameliorate the sufferings of people living in border communities.
Similarly, Mr Nasiru Daura, the Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Special Duties, commended the BCDA for executing the projects in spite of the agency’s poor funding.
He said “this is my first time in the Bakassi area and I am really impressed with government’s presence, especially with regards to the roads from Calabar.’’
He, however, urged the Agency to deliver standard facilities that would stand the test of time, adding that any attempt to compromise quality would not be accepted by the legislature.
“We are impressed with the projects we have seen; there are a few challenges which I think are mainly due to paucity of funds.
“We have made our observations known with regard to some technicalities in the projects executed particularly concerning the security out-post the Agency is constructing for the Immigration Service, the Nigerian Army, Customs service and the Police.
“The contractor needs to do a good job because what we have seen on ground falls short of the required standard.
“If you compare it to other projects within the same environment, the work is poorly done.
“With the amount of money we were told would be spent there, 20 per cent of which had already been disbursed, there was huge room for improvement.
“The contractor and the inspecting agency have to take note of that to ensure that standard is what has been specified by the engineers,” Daura said.
He also urged the Federal Government and other stakeholders not to relent in their efforts to cater for border communities.
The Executive Secretary of BCDA, Mr Numoipre Wills, said the Agency had within its limited budget executed projects in Bakassi as part of Federal Government’s determination to reach out to Bakassi people.
He said “the Bakassi Local Government in Cross River has different border communities which have difficulties accessing healthcare, power, education, water and other social amenities.”
Wills listed some of the projects executed in Bakassi to include the construction of international border market in Ikang, a healthcare centre with quarters for doctors and a school, both situated in Ifiang-Ayong.
“Two projects have also been completed and are ready for inauguration, while some are yet to be completed.
“The two projects that have been completed are old projects while the uncompleted projects are from the 2016 budget.
“So far, some of the contractors are not doing well, while some have performed considerably well.’’
On the estimate for the projects so far, the executive secretary said “the security post cost about N27 million, while the healthcare centre cost about N33 million.”
He called for improved budgetary allocation to the Agency to enable it to carry out its mandate effectively.