The Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Muhammad Musa Bello, has restated the efficacy of Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) model of infrastructure development as a sure strategy for meeting the infrastructure needs of a fast growing city like Abuja.
Bello made this declaration while receiving the report of the Inter-Ministerial Committee on the Abandoned Katampe District Infrastructure Project. FCT Minister had set up the Committee in March this year to review the N61 billion Katampe District engineering Infrastructure project and make recommendations on the way forward.
According to the Minister, “Katampe has to be made to work, or else, the future of developing infrastructure in the city is going to be bleak. Again if we allow the city to develop at this rate, with demography astronomically outstripping infrastructure, eventually, Abuja would be like many other African cities. Consequently, all the reasons for which it was created 40 years ago as well as the huge investments made into it would have just gone down the drain.”
The FCT Minister said it had become necessary to revive the project to put the city’s infrastructural development at par with its demographic, economic and geographic expansion.
Bello, who appreciated the hard work and commitments the committee put into the assignment, expressed confidence that the report will enable the FCT Administration to leverage the lessons learnt from past mistakes in order to move forward on future PPP projects.
Bello said since inception, the FCT had basically depended solely on federal budgetary allocations to be what it is now. He said the Katampe PPP arrangement was designed to augment whatever fund was coming from the Federal Government to speed up Abuja’s infrastructural development through private sector partnership initiatives.
The minister noted that Katampe is just in Phase Two while the districts in Phase Two are over 20. He revealed that 20 similar “Katampes” are waiting to be developed, out of which nearly 80 percent may have already been allocated.
Re-enforcing the enormity of the challenge, the Minister expressed concern that apart from Phase Two, there is also Phase 3, which alone has almost 30 to 35 districts. Others include Phase 4, which has been planned and Phase 5, undergoing planning now.
He affirmed that his administration would give the provision of infrastructure all the seriousness that it deserves in the Territory.
The FCT Minister, while appreciating the inputs of the FCTA Permanent Secretary, Dr. Babatope Ajakaiye, said he worked tirelessly to nominate credible people to handle the review exercise and make useful recommendations.
In his remarks during the presentation ceremony, the Committee Chairman, Engr. Zanna, Baba Gana lamented the slipshod manner with which the procurement process was undertaken, especially the absence of due diligence in the arrival of the contractual terms. He believed these were responsible for the many issues that were encountered in the execution process while revealing that the FCTA in-house supervising team was weak and lacked the full powers to actually take control of the project.
Engr. Gana recalled that “the project was to be partially financed through the development levies the land allottees were charged to pay under a given time-frame of 36 months. It had been expected that the project was to be complete within the period, but as we are reporting to you now, I don’t think up to 30 percent has been collected.”
The Chairman reported that the ripple effect of the non-payment of the levies was that FCTA, which was supposed to provide 45 percent of the finance required, apparently through these collections, could not meet up with its own part of the obligations. This, the chairman pointed out, was part of the reasons the developers suspended work.
Among other issues raised at the presentation were the non-involvement of relevant departments in the project negotiation process. He noted that when the Committee sought information from the Debt Management Office on the subject of the issue of guarantees, it was apparent, the Debt Management Office was also not involved.
The committee specifically recommended, the amendment of the contract agreement and the continuation of the project based on fulfilment of certain conditions and in light of liabilities that will be associated with the cancelation of the project among others.