By Imo Trumpeta
By Okey Alozie
One of the contractors who handled road projects in the state during the Rochas Okorocha era Jack Afra has given an account of what he went through.
Speaking at the sitting of the Imo State Judicial Panel of Inquiry on Contract, he made further revelation of his ordeal with the former administration.
As the Hon. Justice Benjamin Iheka led panel continues to grill contractors on failed contracts in the state, more revelations are beginning to emerge on how understand practices were adopted by the Rescue Mission government of between 2011 to 2019
Making another earth shaking revelations was Mr Jack Afra, a white man and owner of Grandi Project International Company LTD at the panel revealed that due process were not followed in award and execution of the contracts.
He started by alleging in his claims how the former governor of Imo State, Owelle Rochas Okorocha will pay him for one contract and at the same time direct him to use the money paid for one contract to execute others and at the end the former Governor will not pay completely or reconcile the differences.
He used the Nekede/Futo Road contact as example. In his words “the fund available for the Akachi bye-pass road was not enough and Owelle Rochas Okorocha as a result of the variation in the cost promised to create more jobs for me in order to compensate my company for the losses incurred on the WETHERAL by pass project known today as Akachi.
“To make it up, he gave me Naze- Futo road, when I had done a considerable amount of work on the Futo, Ihiagwa/Naze Road, he sent Late senator Ben Uwajumogu who was the then Speaker Imo State House of Assembly to take over the Job from me because I had to stop and wait for some funds as i was very short of funds then because i had utilized the funds for Futoroad to complete Akachi and ABA owerri road.
“We had a little misunderstanding because, I have gone far in the job I even presented my award letter to him.
Uwajumogu asked me to go and complain to Rochas instead of quarrelling with him.
I was surprised that my Job was given to another white man who speaks the same language with me.”
Jack said he borrowed alot of money from banks to execute the contract and he is owing the banks because the then Governor could not pay him for the contracts he did for Imo State in full.
He revealed that the governor then gave him several jobs that were all lumped under one award letter which is “government house projects” and the said Lamonde which was not La mondeo then was one of the projects the then governor pointed out to him to do, and so Jack took the order and went ahead to do the car parking lot of 2400 square meters unknowing that it was not a government property, when he presented his bill he was asked to take it off the government house bill that he would advice him on how to present it for payment, but several attempts requesting for that money was always postponed till further notice.
Mr Jack presented all his records for execution of contracts given to him in the name of his two companies Grandi and Mid East Construction Company.
Jack said he had written for his money to be paid and up till now the government is owning him big amount of money as banks are now after him because of huge debt hanging on his neck.
He mentioned some of the job he handled on name of Mid East Construction Company to include Rehabilitation of Emmanuel College roundabout at the value of 25million naira and he was paid only 15million, Assumputa Portharcourt road opposite GTB 400metres valued at 50million naira and he was paid 15million naira remaining 35million naira.
On the issue of erosion control at Urualla, Ideato North, Jack said he received only 55million for the erosion site of 1.2km and his job there was to narrow the erosion. The governor gave him the 55million and he used it to hire machines from Abuja that are not available within region the machine are scarce like D9 bulldozers and excavator 345 which are massive machinery for such huge earthworks coupled with the machines he had on site.
Jack disclosed he has so far spent 126.8 million naira on the job and as he was going very low on cash, he has to stop the job11. He mentioned Ogboko nursing school road valued at 130m
He said he completed all that he was supposed to do at the Ogboko nursing school job (750metres road dualized). Another job he mentioned was patching of pot holes from Owerri to Afor Ogboko for 88million naira but received only 40million. He further revealed that he was somehow unorganized in 2019 because where he was using as office and yard close to former ITC park along Aba road were he said he built 18 offices were destroyed I was asked to go out from that place.
“My properties were demolished, in all honesty I could not say anything because I was afraid, also and that was why I did not fight back
“I was surprised that the place I was using was destroyed and a warehouse was built on it.
At this point, the Director of Public4 Prosecution, DPP, Mr Ibekwem was to ask some questions. He asked if the job Jack handled were advertized and he said yes but there was no written agreement, No certificate of completion.
He also disclosed that Okorocha was one who gave him the job directly with the then Deputy Governor Jude Agbaso whom was also the Commissioner of works at the time.
On the Aba road job, also Jack disclosed that standard specifications were not used because Okorocha wanted him to follow all his directive.”I advised him but he did not listen, I gave him cost on bill of quantity for federal road standard explaining that regular state standard would not take the axle load that that road is going to carry and that there is a tendency of the road not lasting 2 or 3 years, the issue was the pricing for a federal road was almost double the one of state road and thats why he refused and opted to use that of state specification” Jack also said. Jack revealed that when he started road at IBC Orji, there were no structures at the time but one and the road was very bushy but later Okorocha started building at the place .At Orji IBC he built Rochas Foundation College.
Jack however expressed further shock when it was revealed to him that about #4.8bn had already been paid to another firm for the Urualla erosion project when he was yet to get the full money for job done so far for the project by him.
Speaking further on the present administration, Mr Afara submitted that the present administration led by Senator Hope Uzodinma is going to take Imo to greater heights adding that the Governor (Hope Uzodinma) is working very well in all ramification since he came on board.
He said Governor Uzodinma impressed him in the area of tackling water flood like Chukwumanwoha and Relief market road.
Secondly, he said that Senator Uzodinma is making contractors handling projects in the State very comfortable. Moreover, he stated that Ministry of Works is now working and due process is followed adding that contractors are covered and insured by the Interim Payment Certificate (IPC).
According to him, contractors are now Supervised on the job they are handling to avoid mistakes.
Talking about construction of roads during rainy season, Mr. Jack hinted that there is no cause for alarm.
He said that there are things you can do during rainy season and there are things that you cannot do.
According to him, we can work and do all hidrolic structures like drains, box culvate, stone piching, erosion controle and other important works.
“The only thing that cannot be done during rainy season is earth works like filling and culting materials. This is peculiar to Imo State.
“If sharp sand used you can do earth work during the rainy season “the only different between laterite (red mud) and sharp sand is the cost.
the condition of tunnels at Concord Junction and that of Imo House of Assembly Junction according to Mr. Jack sand that if can still function well if rehabilitation job is done on the tunnels.
The major problem at the tunnels according to him is that the tunnels were not engineered correctly because there was no proper water channel. On the issue 4th mainland Bridge which collapsed recently.
He submitted that the reason for the collapse of the Bridge is because the box culvate had no pallars to seat on adding that water found its way under the foundation of the culvate and started eroding under, thereby causing it to tilt.
He said also the concrete piles supposed to serve as a support to the culvate. He then declared that the 4th Main land Bridge for now should be out of use because of that dangerous spot were the Bridge collapsed.
He advised that Imo Government go now and put proper signs there to stop people from moving close to the dangerous spot.
On the issue of dragging. Afara warned about dredging stating that it has capacity to fall bridges constructed in the State.
Uzodinma will definitely fix Imo because he is a selfless man and has no familiocracy or personal Agenda.
Jack Afara said he wants to be addressed as an Imolites and not a foreigner “My father married at Emekuku in Owerri North LGA and myself as a Bachelor I want to marry from Imo State but I had a bad experience on the past.
My father is Mr Nabil Afara, mother is Mrs Nadia Afara.