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Okowa and ULO boss, Uche Okpunor


Anderson Ekene

Anyone depending on the Asaba International Airport for flight issues should consider having a rethink and planning an alternative as information available to this medium is that the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) may give order for the immediate downgrade and shutdown of the Airport in no distance time.

Information filtering in from the Delta State Government House where Governor Ifeanyi Okowa seats as the numero uno is that Nigeria’s foremost indigenous construction company, ULO Consultants Ltd, has written a letter of disengagement from the airport beginning from November 20th 2017. The letter we gathered from government house insiders was received by Okowa on 17th November 2017.

According to our informant, the letter signed by Chief Uche Okpuno who’s the company Chairman stated “unfavorably working conditions imposed on them (their foreign partners) indirectly by officials of the State Government Ministry of Works”.

It added that “the estimates prepared by the Ministry of Works in 2014 without our inputs negates due process and principle of contract”, as no reputable Civil Engineering company of competence was involved in the preparing of a competitive Bill of Engineering measurement and evaluation.

We gathered that Okowa instead of reviewing the contract in line with the current economic situation of 2017 insisted that ULO continue to carry out services with same financial obligations of 2014, knowing that the prices of materials used in construction has tripled since recession set in.

The rehabilitation of the runways and taxiways if stalled by ULO letter to disengage we can authoritatively report will mean that the airport is not fit to accommodate planes and therefore will be downgraded and more money spent to upgrade it.

The disengagement of ULO will not be the first in the Okowa’s administration, as other notable construction companies such as CCECC, Setraco and Levante have since pulled out due to these same issues, leaving mushroom companies and enterprises as the only ones used by the government to carry out construction. We gathered that ULO decision to stay while other construction giants were pulling out was due to his indigenous nature and as an ‘Asaba Man’, who must not be seen as sabotaging a government headed by a fellow Anioma indigene.

In withdrawing their entire services from the state, ULO agreed to review all the works done by them in conjunction with the State Ministry of Works to determine if in their obligation to the state, they owe or the state owes them, including a comprehensive cost audit.

Under the immediate past administration of Emmanuel Uduaghan, none of the companies left for the eight years that he held sway, but under the current government; they have all been pushed out with harsh economic policies that can cripple any business.

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