Contractors ‘Shut Down’ Public Primary Schools in Kaduna Over Unpaid Contract
Kaduna State Governor Mallam Nasir El-Rufai’s primary education programme suffers a setback, as contractors have padlocked some of the schools after renovation due to inability of government to pay them their contract money.
More than a thousand pupils attending the primary schools, which cut across the state, had to stay back at home, while desperate ones used (outer) doors and windows as blackboards to learn with their teachers.
When visited during school hours, the LGEA primary school located at Ungwan Shanu/Abakpa, in Kaduna North LGA of Kaduna State, the sympathetic looking pupils and their teachers were having their school sessions under the sun.
An insider said the pupils and their teachers have been going through the problems since the resumption of schools in January this year, as their classrooms have remained locked by the contractors, who handled the rehabilitation of all the schools’ blocks.
Contacted, Commissioner of Works and Transport, Kaduna state, Hon Muhammud Hassan, who confirmed the story, said government is working towards ‘fulfilling its obligation’ to pay contractors their remaining balance very soon.
Hon Hassan further affirmed that, “Part of the meeting we had today was in respect of schools’ rehabilitation project; we gave them mobilization, but government cannot pay everything at the same time. We’ll settle them and collect the schools.”
The Kaduna State government had in 2016 awarded the contract for the rehabilitation of the schools to JAFMUD Nig. Ltd, who completed work early January, but the state government was unable to collect the work apparently for lack of funds to pay the contractor, who was alleged to have not been given any mobilization fees when the contract was awarded.
One of the full blocks of classrooms of a renovated school has been under lock-and-key, while pupils sit outside to study. Conscience Triumph gathered that the contractor was assured of ‘prompt payment’ on completion of the work, but the promise was not met – three months after the completion of work; this provoked the contractor to lock up the classrooms.
Impeccable sources in the state Ministry of Education told a group of reporters that government was making frantic efforts to collect the schools from all contractors in the state, who have completed their renovation of the schools awarded to them. But a contractor in a telephone discussion told our reporter that he handed over the school to the Ministry of Works two months ago.
All efforts to contact both the Education Commissioner and Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to the governor on the issue proved abortive.
Another version of the story from engineering section of the works department, however, said the schools were yet to be commissioned and handed over fully to the authority after the job done.