Construction Workers Protest Company Debts By Akwa Ibom Government
Construction workers with Qumecs Nigeria Limited, Original contractors of the Ring road 2 project, in Uyo, Akwa Ibom state, on Saturday took to the streets to express their anger and frustration over alleged government’s indebtedness to the company.
The state government had last year revoked the contract with Qumecs and awarded the same to an indigenous construction firm, Hensek Integrated company limited, leaving an outstanding balance of about N572m due to be paid to the first construction firm.
The alleged inability of the state government to remit the balance has caused untold hardship among the workers as the company has hinged its inability to settle them on government’s failure to remit the balance.
The protesting workers carried playcards of various inscriptions such as ‘Governor Udom Emmanuel: We have lost 4 members to ring road 2 project, :’Mr Governor pay Qumecs’, ‘Governor Udom Emmanuel, we are dying because Qumecs is owing us’, etc.
They told our correspondent that before the contract was revoked, some of them had collected loan facilities and sold cars and other personal belongings to execute the various jobs with the company.
One of the workers, Samuel Peter, who supplied stones said Qumecs owed him the sum of N18m, adding that he sold a piece of land to execute the supply contract but has been unable to recover his money since then.
“I sold a piece of land to supply stones to Qumecs for about N18m. But up till date, I have not been paid,” he lamented
Peter, who said that he was surviving on charity disclosed that one Idorenyin Atang from Eket local government area has committed suicide because he was not able to “pay back the loans he collected from various people to execute a contract and three others have died out of frustration.”
Also speaking, one of the sub contractors, Isaac Ibanga, representing Sikak firm Nigeria Ltd said his company constructed the entire drainage placement of the Ring road project, which was still in use.
He claimed that the company is indebted to him to the tune of N18m adding that the amount was a loan facility granted to him by one of his bankers to execute the project.
He said, “We did the drainage placement to quite a far distance. To my surprise, payment ceased in 2019.
“Later, we heard that the mother company’s contract was revoked and we expected that the severance packages should be paid. We are not interested in who carries on the project.
“We have towed the path of peace since that time. we have appealed and written various letters to Qumecs but we understand that the state government has not paid them.
“We wrote to the state government, copied to the governor and other relevant parastatals but they will tell you that they don’t have any business with subcontractors since they gave the job to Qumecs.
”Under due process, when a job is revoked, necessary checks are made to know if there are any outstanding balance which ought to be defrayed to the contractor, but such was not done in this case.”
When contacted, the project manager, Qumecs Nigeria Limited, Stephen Oluyemi, lamented that the state government has yet to pay the company the outstanding balance of N572 million which will enable them to pay the suppliers and subcontractors.
He said, ”The truth is that we owed the indigenes, subcontractors and suppliers huge amounts of money. They have been writing to us but the issue is that we have not been paid the money by the state government.
“The work since three years ago was about 70% completion until COVID- 19 came and government did not pay and since then, we’ve been expecting payment.
“On February 2021, what rather came was letter of termination and they’ve awarded the contract to another company. Since then, we’ve not received our outstanding balance.
“We have pleaded with them to exercise patience, our equipment was still on site. And as soon as the government pays us, we will clear the debt we owed these Indigenes.”
However, efforts to speak with the state commissioner of Works and Fire Service, Prof. Eno Ibanga, was not successful as at the time of filing this report as he could pick his calls and did not respond to text messages sent to his phone.
Source:- Punch Ng