From Lateef Taiwo
Minister of Works, Engr David Umahi has declared that he has no friends, no enemies and no companies as far as his assignment as the Minister of Works is concerned.
Umahi made this declaration during a press briefing he held at the headquarters of the Ministry in Abuja Monday.
They Minister said there were accusations that he was pursuing the agenda to change from asphalt roads to concrete so that he could give the work to his company.
He said that he will not place the interest of anybody above the interest of God, because the interest of God is the interest of the people and that is why he is poised to work in line with the renewed hope agenda of Mr. President.
Umahi also denied the allegation that he was sidelining the directors of the Ministry. He disclosed that he carries along the Directors and accepts their opinions when they are better than his because he is open to advice and accepts superior arguments
He said he was aware of the campaign of calumny by some individuals who are not ready to accept the fact that things must be done in the right perspective.
Umahi who noted that some detractors were set to frighten him so that he will not question some wrongdoings, said that no amount of blackmail can deter him.
He revealed that a lot of work is not going on in the South East, saying he will be going there on inspection and whoever has received money for a bad job or an undone job will be compelled to go back and do what he has been paid for.
He challenged those who are threatening to go to court to do so because the ministry has not done anything outside the limits of the law.
He said the ministry has always engaged its contractors in agreement with the general condition of contracts which is the standard that all engineers are expected to abide by.
He read out clause 51 of the the agreement which empowers the ministry to direct a contractor to change from asphalt to concrete layout.
The Minister said his preference for concrete roads is due to the fact that it has at least 50 years shelf life, will reduce the pressure on naira, boost the economy of the country and create employment since there are indigenous companies producing cement unlike bitumen that is being imported for asphalt.
Umahi stressed that any contractor who insists on asphalt road must sign an agreement that it will last for at least thirty, 30, years which is the shelf life as Nigerians must get value for their taxes. He abhorred the situation where people are subjected to unnecessary hardship and security risk due to bad roads.
Umahi said the idea of a supersonic speed highway was borne before his appointment as Minister but he embraced it due to its benefits.
He disclosed that an advanced engineering company was invited to the ministry for demonstration which proved its viability.
He said, “It is a fresh technology and it is taking off with the proposed 4th Mainland Bridge and by the famous Shagamu – Ore road. It will link to the seaport that is being done, the fertiliser company and the refinery. He added that the 4th Mainland Bridge construction is by the Lagos State Government.