Amaechi, Lawmakers Truncated Rivers’ Mega Hospital Project, Says Contractor
Meanwhile, the Permanent Secretary in Rivers State Ministry of Health, Somiari Harry and the state’s former Accountant General, Mr. Ngozi Abu, have accused the contractor, Clinotech Turnkey Management Limited, of being indebted to the state to the tune of N4.6 billion, an allegation the company has denied.
The representative of Clinotech, Mr. Ifeanyi Olisaemeka, told the Justice George Omereji-led Judicial Commission investigating the sale of valued Rivers State assets and other related matters that the former governor had on May 15, 2010, paid a visit to the project site at Omagwu and ordered the immediate suspension and evacuation of Clinotech from the construction site.
He explained that the reason given by the governor was that work done was not commensurate with the $39.2 million (N4.6 billion) released for the project by the state government.
Olisaemeka noted that contrary to the insinuation that Clinotech abandoned the project, the company had made contact with Export Development Canada, which has syndicate banks in Nigeria like the First Bank, to finance its counterpart funding of the project.
According to him, First Bank had written to the Rivers State government that it was willing to provide up to $60 million to Clinotech, prompting former governor Amaechi to order the release of N4.6 billion, representing the state’s 40 per cent equity for the commencement of the project.
He stated that due to the global economic meltdown, First Bank was unable to fulfill its obligation and Clinotech assured the state government that it would be able to raise its own 60 per cent equity within a year.
He noted that while sourcing for the fund, the State House of Assembly suspended the private-public partnership due to the delay in obtaining local bank guarantee required by Clinotech to access the offshore funding for its 60 per cent equity.
“As soon as the PPP was suspended, all transaction in First Bank was halted. For Clinotech to be able to be mobilised, the Rivers State government demanded for an advance payment guarantee from any willing and acceptable Nigerian bank that will be able to justify the expenditure and supervise payment to the contractor. Two banks wrote to the Rivers State government including Access Bank and UBA. Access Bank was accepted. Access issued the advance payment guarantee. The Rivers State government proceeded to fund the APG of N4.3 billion,” he said.
He revealed that on November 17, 2008, the state government entered into a construction and equipment agreement with Clinotech.