Shocker! Builders of Calabar’s first flyover yet to be paid … Seek recovery of N2.5bn debt

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Ben Ayade

Two years after the issuance of job completion certificate, Sermatech Nigeria Limited, the company that constructed the first flyover and interchange in Calabar, has yet to be paid its contract balance of N2.5bn.

The seven-kilometre dual carriage way, which starts from the Atimbo roundabout and terminates at the Lemna road with a flyover and an interchange, has become the major evacuation route for industrial, commercial and private road users in Calabar.

Named Goodluck Jonathan Bye-Pass, the road also has 20 big companies, including the Calabar Garment Factory, located in the new industrial park being built by the Governor Ben Ayade administraion.

The road, which was constructed from the dense mangrove swamp, was the brainchild of ex-governor Liyel Imoke, and was unveiled by ex-President Goodluck Jonathan in January 2015.

However, two years after the job was completed, a civil engineer in Sermatech Nigeria Limited, Faith Bassey-Edet, decried the yet-to-be-settled debt.

Edet, who spoke with journalists shortly after a tour of the busy route which has successfully diverted traffic from the Calabar metropolis, said specifically, the company had already disengaged the services of majority of its foreign and local professionals.

Giving an insight into the difficulties encountered in constructing the road, Edet disclosed that about 3.1 kilometres of the road was a deep swamp, with an unstable soil of about 19 metres; adding that a lot of technical expertise was brought into play to ensure that standard was not compromised.

But the sour point at the moment, according to Edet, is that the company’s debt profile with banks have continued to rise with accrued interests due to the inability of the state government to pay.

Edet, therefore, pleaded with Governor Ben Ayade to pay the balance contract sum of the N2.5bn for the company to remain afloat.

She said, “We lost a whole year in an attempt to secure funds to complete the road. The contract was awarded in 2010 and completed in 2015.

“We brought in a lot of professionals to ensure that the job was properly done. Unfortunately, we have lost most of our staff because of paucity of funds.

“We actually secured loans to complete the road. We are pleading with the state government to release the N2.5bn, which is the remainder of the contract balance after the certificate was issued and the road handed over to government.”

Meanwhile, available records show that the state took over full control of the road in April 2016, after the a director in the state Ministry of Works, Mr. Godwin Akeke, and his colleague in charge of the project, Mr. Gershom Edem, had certified the job completed.

In response to an earlier letter by the Secretary to the State Government, Tina Agbor, to Sermatech Nigeria Limited, the state government had acknowledged that it would pay the debt as soon as its financial situation improved.Punch

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