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Contractor, Residents bicker over N40m estate road construction

Prince and Princess Estate is one of the housing estates that have established its name over the years because of its strategic location in the heart of Abuja

The estate became popular in 2002 with over 1000 housing units as individuals who acquired lands in the estate developed their own building types such as duplexes, blocks of flats and semi-detached bungalows as the estate grew over the years.

But the major challenge of the estate has been poor road network which has been a source of concern to the estate residents who under the umbrella of Prince and Princess Estate decided to construct roads linking streets and avenues within the estate.

The chairperson of the Prince and Princess Residents Association, Mr. Victor Adoga told Daily Trust how the contract to renovate roads within the estate was awarded to one Mr. Yamah Muhammad, chairman of Lavista Construction Company in Abuja in 2013 but till date the road has not been fixed. But Muhammad refuted the residents’ claims saying they were totally false.

According to Adoga, N40 million was advanced to Muhammad to kick-start the project after which he will be paid the balance on delivering the road within one month.

Adoga said the contractor Mr. Yamah Muhammad who also resides within the Prince and Princess Estate claimed he was kidnapped along Lokoja road few days after the money was paid to his account.

“He was given a little time to get himself back and then what we expected from him was to resume at the site which he never did. So, we had to involve the EFCC after which he took us to court but unfortunately for him, he lost the case in court. He was asked to deliver the road project for us but our challenge with him now is that he has since been using the rain as excuse and haven’t resumed to site.”

Also speaking on the matter, the estate facility manager, Mr. Chukwuemeka Alphonsus, said the estate consists of about six drives and also two phases with several closes.

“The estate is well positioned and it is also within the heart of the city but the road is a challenge for residents here and also a big challenge for us the facility managers because if the road is in good condition, it makes our job a lot easier,” he said.

He said the road has failed and it was also affecting the drainages adding that before now, the contractor scraped the asphalt surface of the road after which he abandoned it.

“The contractor, Lavista Construction Company was awarded contract in 2011 by the residents association to renovate the road after which he actually resumed to site. He was paid about N40 million and after he had removed the surface, he came up with a story about how he was kidnapped. It is so unfortunate because the contractor is also a resident of this estate and he also plies these roads. In fact, if he had not removed the asphalt of the road in the beginning, the road wouldn’t be this bad,” Mr. Alphonsus said.

Continuing, he said “before now, residents agreed after taking over their houses that they also need to fix the infrastructures. After vetting the reconstruction of the entire road of the estate it was estimated to cost about N160 million and then the estimated number of houses was around 1000. So, each household had to pay about N160, 000 in respect of the road but the percentage of compliance was also a challenge as they had only about 35% compliance. So, it was with that money they gathered that they had to pay the contractor to mobilize work on site with the hope that the contractor will deliver work as promised.”

When contacted, the contractor Mr. Muhammad said he did the work up to the extent he was paid which is verifiable and that all that was left was for the residents to pay money to put asphalt on the road.

He explained that in 2012, the residents in a newspaper publication asked for contractors to submit bids for the roads but no contractor responded.

“The chairman of the association came to appeal to me to come to their aide knowing that I have a construction company. They imposed development levies on the resident and asked me to mobilize my equipment to site that once the residents see something going on it will encourage them to pay. But three weeks after I moved my equipment they had no kobo to pay. They called me to stop work and after they assessed what I had done they paid me off for mobilization,” Muhammad said.

Explaining further, he said, “In May 2015 they came back to me that they have some money and they want me to go back to site. The total value of the contract after we revalidated it was N164 million and they said they had N40million. They mobilized N40m in July and we started work which they all saw. While we were working I attended a wedding in Benin on 22nd August, as I was coming back to Abuja, I and a friend ran into robbers who kidnapped us for four nights. God delivered us after payment of ransom.

After I was released, I fell ill and by the time I recovered all the earthwork done (on the road) had been destroyed. Then we mobilized again to the road. But they said the road had been delayed and they reported to the EFCC who never invited me but placed a red alert on my account and arrested my driver. I took the EFCC to court and not the association for violation of my right.”

He said the court ruled that the status quo be maintained because it was a simple contract which had no criminal element and even the EFCC advised them to settle the matter.

“In December 2016, we held meetings and agreed that I should move to site that they will mobilize me with N15m but from then, throughout 2017; my caterpillar and grader are still on that road. No money has been given to me.

Recently we signed another agreement which they said they are going to mobilize me but I told them to hold on because of the rain until early November. We have sent to them the plan of work and cost variation but till now I have not heard from them,” Muhammad said.

Credit: Daily Trust

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