From Gyang Bere, Jos
Life has returned to some rural communities in the 17 local government areas of Plateau State, as the contractor handling some health and school projects returned to site.
Residents gave a warm reception to Mr. Lawson Ngoa, president, BLENESON Services Nigeria Limited (BSNL), the company handling the health and school projects, tagged ‘Lalong Legacy Projects, in the 17 local government areas of the state.
Most residents believed that the projects, which after would impact positively on the lives of the rural populace, had been abandoned. But the sites have come alive again.
It was gathered that Ngoa’s visits to the communities spread joy among residents and put smiles on many faces. Some of the youths and women were engaged by the contractor for menial jobs.
The residents noted that the return of the contractor demonstrated the commitment of Governor Simon Lalong to the health and education of the rural dwellers by lifting the hope of underprivileged persons.
The contractor visited each local government, from Riyom Local Government Council to Jos East Local Government.
Among the projects are six modern hospitals, six modern secondary schools and eight modern primary schools across the 17 councils, with some already completed.
“It is not true that the projects have been discontinued, as claimed by some mischief-makers,” he said.
He explained that the company was engaged to carry out the project in 2018 but had to stop due to the COVID-19 pandemic that ravaged the economy of the state and the entire world.
“We were given this job since 2018 and, as it is now, the project is in all the 17 local government areas of the state. This is a model secondary school and it is a boarding school that is well equipped.
“I decided to come out today to go round and see things for myself because there is this doubt that the project has been abandoned. From what I have seen so far, like in Riyom, the project is now over 70 per cent completed, and I am sure we should be commissioning this project as soon as possible.
“I am looking at between now and April for the inauguration. From what I have seen so far, we are ensuring that the entire project is done this year, even though the completion date is 2022. But we want people to start benefitting from the facilities,” he said.
He pledged that funding was no problem, since money had been raised to complete all the projects.
“The challenge we had was the pandemic, which made us lose over eight months, and now that the pandemic is wearing away and we are also in the dry season, we are back to site and the project will be done,” he said.
He added though that there has been serious inflation as a result of the pandemic and his company was already talking to the state government about it.
“There is also this news everywhere that contractors said we are owing them. That is not true. We pay as and when due,” he said.
Ngoa lamented that the pandemic prevented activities on the project sites for a full year. But he praised the workers for what they were able to achieve in spite of the time wasted by the pandemic.
He dismissed insinuations that the company was facing friction with some host communities: “When I visited the sites, I was applauded by the host communities because everybody is glad at what we have on ground.”
Last week, Lalong inspected some of the projects, after which he addressed a large crowd that had gathered to appreciate him for providing water, electricity and good roads that had eluded them for long.
He said the contractors had been substantially funded and were expected to complete the projects within record time. He said his government was determined to complete the projects it initiated along with those inherited.
The state executive council also approved the sourcing of a N3 billion bond from the capital market to finance some capital projects.
Commissioner for information and communication, Mr. Dan Manjang, said the bond was necessary to ensure that some of ongoing projects were completed while other critical ones introduced.
He said the shortfall in internally generated revenue and federal allocation to the state due to COVID-19 necessitated the sourcing of alternative funds to execute critical projects.
Finance commissioner, Mrs. Regina Soemlat, said the N3 billion bond was part of the N30 billion earlier sourced for the Lalong Legacy Projects. She said the funding needed to complete the projects was available, adding that work was going on at all the sites steadily.