IN Bwari, a community in the Federal Capital Teritory , a multi-million naira town hall built for social activities is rotting away.
Between 2017 and 2018 the senator of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Senatorial District, Phillip Aduda, facilitated the project and promised the Bwari residents a fluttering development upon completion.
The town hall which is under the supervision of the Lower Benue River Basin Development Authority (LBRBDA), has been abandoned halfway to its completion. Now, its expanse is filled with invading weeds and reptiles, making it yet another abandoned project that litters Nigeria.
On-the-ground reporting revealed that the town hall surroundings now serves as a dumping site, a storehouse and farmland. Meanwhile the wall paint has begun peeling.
Earlier this year, Maicat Construction, the company handling the project, had employed some local security forces to guard the town hall after several cases of thefts of pieces of equipment on the site were reported.
“We are from the Nigeria Hunters Organisation, and we were employed to protect this facility because a big generator was recently stolen,” said Bulus Kefas, one of the guards of the facility.
“This town hall project is supposed to have been completed, but the contractor said that they are waiting for funds from authorities to complete it,” he added.
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The delay in the completion of the project is casting doubt among residents. Some residents said the project could have added some economic value to their existence.
“I thought that the project would be fast and it would affect my business positively, but year in and out, it is not having any impact on it,” said a woman in her mid-fifties, who identified herself as Patricia.
The petty trader added that, “It is not growing my business, so I’m less concerned about the situation, and I’m not the only one in this shoe.”
A number of residents interviewed said they have already forgotten such a project existed because it has failed to serve its purpose.
“I don’t know there is something like that going on there, I only do see it locked up, and I go about with my business,” Tersoo James stated. “Most of us have forgotten about this project in this part of the community. As you can see, you can count the number of people you met since you’ve been walking”.
The Secretary of Bwari Traditional Ruling Council, Amos Musa, said the optimism of the council and residents has been dashed due to the slow pace of the project.
“We thought by now everything should have been completed, but unfortunately, the project is not going as we had expected. Our previous town hall was dilapidated, and since then, we have been using the palace.
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“We do rent hotels and halls for big community functions, and funds that are meant to be diverted to community development are expended on rents for halls”.
He called for a speedy completion of the project.
When contacted for comments on the outcome of our findings, the General Manager of Maicat Nigeria Limited, the company handling the town hall construction, Gideon Istifanus, said there is a deficit of trust in the handling of the project.
He said, “We have provided a generator, security lights, and chairs for the project, but unfortunately, the generator was stolen, and the case is in court,” he said, noting that only 80 per cent of the funds were released. “As it is now, we may likely do partial handing over because securing the project has cost us a lot for the past four years.”
‘We should not be held responsible for the project’ — FCT senator
Special Assistant to the FCT senator, Danjuma Shekwolo, said his principal was not available for any information on the subject matter.
“We have little information about the project because we are not the implementing agency”, the aide, who identified himself as Simeon said. “It is the agency that is saddled with the responsibility of execution of construction, and we should not be held responsible for the project.”
“The senator only put the project on the budget; he has nothing to do with the execution, he added.
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Meanwhile, the Executive Director of LBRBDA, Michael Dzungu, told The ICIR that over N172 million out of the N200 million, which is 86 per cent of the budget for the project which has been released.
“By our record, assessment, and evaluation, ninety-two per cent of the work had been done, but unfortunately, there had not been further appropriation on the project to pay the outstanding balance for the project,” Dzungu said.
Nothing has happened on the project for about two years now because it seems that there had been a lack of appropriation on the project.