Construction worker commits suicide over Akwa Ibom Govt’s alleged failure to pay debt
A construction worker, Idorenyin Atang, has reportedly committed suicide over Akwa Ibom State Government’s indebtedness to QUMECS Nigeria Limited (company he works for), the Original contractors of the Ring road 2 project, in Uyo, the state capital.
According to Daily Post, late Atang, a native of Eket Local Government Area took his life out of frustration, having been overwhelmed with pressure from his creditors whom he collected loans from, to execute part of his job with the company.
The State government had last year revoked the contract with QUMECS and awarded same to an indigenous construction firm, Hensek Integrated company limited, leaving an outstanding balance of about N572m due to be paid to the first construction firm (QUMECS).
The alleged inability of the State government to remit the balance has caused untold hardship among the workers.
Some of them have died of high blood pressure, as the company blamed its inability to settle them on government’s failure to remit the balance.
The aggrieved construction workers, who took to the streets over the weekend, lamented that before the contract was revoked, some of them had collected loan facilities, sold cars and other personal belongings to execute the various jobs with the company.
They displayed placards with various inscriptions such as, “Mr Governor, we are dying because QUMECS is owing us’, ‘Governor Emmanuel please pay us ring road 11’, ‘Mr Emmanuel no respect for due process ring road 11’.
The sub-contractors noted that their monies ranging from N18 Million, N34 Million, N130 Million etc. were mostly loans collected with high interest from banks, pleading that the debts should be offset to enable them live their normal lives.
Daily Post reported that the sub-contractors, Isaac Ibanga representing Sikak firm Nigeria Ltd, said the company owes him a sum of N18million, which according to him, was a loan from bank to execute the project.
He said, “we did the drainage placement to quite a far distance, to my surprise, payment ceased since 2019. Later, we heard that the mother company’s contract was revoked and we expected that the severance packages should be paid, we are not interested in who carries on the project.
“We have toed the path of peace since the time, we have appealed and wrote various letters to QUMECS, but we got to understand that the State government has not paid them. We wrote to the State government, copied the Governor and other relevant parastatals but they will tell you that they don’t have any bussiness with sub contractors, they gave the job to QUMECS.
”Under due process, when a job is revoked, necessary checks are made to know if there are any outstanding and such should be defrayed to the contractor, but such was not done in this case.”
Also, one Samuel Peter, who was a supplier of stone-base, said the company owes him N18 million, lamenting that he sold a land to execute the supply contract but has been unable to recover his money since then.
When contacted, the project manager, OUMECS Nigeria Limited, Engr Stephen Oluyemi insisted that the State government has not paid the company the outstanding balance of N572 million, which will enable them pay the suppliers and sub-contractors.
According to him, ”the truth is that we owe the indigenes, sub-contractors and suppliers huge amount of money. They have been writing to us but the issue is that we have not been paid the money.
“The work since three years ago was about 70% completion until COVID-19 came and the government did not pay and since then we’ve been expecting payment. On February 2021, what rather came was letter of termination and they awarded the contract to another company, since then we’ve not received our outstanding.
“We have pleaded with them to exercise patience, our equipment are still on site and as soon as government pays us, we will clear the debt we owe these indigenes.”
However, efforts to get a reaction from the Commissioner for works and fire service, Prof Eno Ibanga, could not be reached as at the time of filling this report.
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