Governor Ifeanyi Okowa-led Delta State government has concluded plans to hire a Chinese firm to kick-off a N13.6b state secretariat project amidst owing workers in the state over 15 months salaries arrears as well as the more immediate problem of lack of proper drainage system in the state which has been causing massive flooding after rainfall.
Governor Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa wrote to the Assembly seeking the approval to build a befitting secretariat in the state central district. The government had awarded the contract to Messrs North China Construction Group Limited on a contractor finance basis.
In the letter read by the speaker, Mr. Sherif Oborewori, Dr. Okowa sought the Assembly’s approval for N13.6 billion as running cost for the project. The authorization included the considered approved decision by the Exco directing that the project be financed by way of borrowing the sum of N8 billion, money equivalent to $18.5million.
The governor said that the action was predicted on the fact that, since the creation of Delta State in 1991, most government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), have been operating from government buildings scattered across the state.
He said that most of the buildings were designed and constructed for residential purposes and not for office purposes, hence are improper for office use and that the situation denies the state the advantage of proximity of government offices to one another.
According to him, the government is expected to guarantee the loan of N8 billion to be obtained by North China Construction Group Limited (NCCG) from the United Bank of Africa (UBA) and to issue irrevocable Standing Payment Orders (ISPOs).
The Majority Leader of the House, Tim Owhefere, argued that the move was important in view of the fact that government spends over N7 billion yearly on office rentals.
He said that, on completion of the project, rent would be converted to more profitable ventures. “Let’s look at how much the state stands to gain. I think it is a worthwhile decision, compared to the loss recorded yearly, most especially as it is financed by the contractors”, he added.
Hon. Samuel Mariere, Hon. Emeke Elekeokwuri and Hon. Rueben Izeze who spoke, described the project as laudable, adding that the move will also give way for the Chinese to help develop the state like they are doing in Lagos and Akwa-Ibom States.
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