The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, on Thursday, finally humbled former President, Goodluck Jonathan’s ego, by accusing the former President of wasting N34 billion on the dredging of River Niger.
Amaechi said this at a Conference on Fast-Tracking Port Reforms, hosted by The Nation newspaper, in conjunction with the Federal Ministry of Transportation, in Lagos.
While speaking, Amaechi said: “When the River Niger was first approved for dredging by the previous administration, it was approved for N47 billion, and N34 billion was paid to the contractor. Dancers were called in and there was a party.
“We are not dredging the River Niger with billions of naira; we are dredging the River Niger with just N100 million. When we flagged it off recently, did you see us dancing? Was there a party? I just went to see the Governor, and told him that the project will start today, and will be finished in one month.
“The Governor said he will accompany me, and I said ‘ok’. So, I asked the Governor to flag it off, since it’s located in his State.”
Commenting on concerns raised in certain quarters on how the government plans to execute the dredging exercise with N100 million as against the N47 billion earmarked for same by Jonathan’s government, the former Rivers State governor said the government would not employ the services of private dredgers.
“People are wondering how on earth we are going to dredge the River Niger for N100m, when the previous government awarded same contract for N47 billion?”, he said.
“But we are going to dredge the River Niger, using dredgers owned by the National Inland Waterways Authority, NIWA. NIWA has dredgers, but the previous government preferred to give contractors money to dredge the river with private dredgers while NIWA’s dredgers were lying idle somewhere in Port Harcourt.
“The NIWA MD told me the agency has dredgers, but it’s been hired out to somebody in Port Harcourt. So, we had dredgers, but the previous administration hired them out to some persons in Port Harcourt while paying a contractor billions of naira to use privately owned dredgers at a very high cost.
“I told the NIWA MD that I will look for money to fuel their dredgers, and work has started. That is why we are dredging the River Niger with just N100 million,” Mr. Amaechi said