By Chuks Ehirim
All is not well with the Association of Indigenous Contractors of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) as they are geared for a show-down with the authority of the Territory over non-payment of their indebtedness.
The Association expressed dismay over the unnecessary delay in payment of matured bills (payment files with Minister’s approval) for months without recourse to their plight.Part of their grief is that since January, 2012, no payment was made until in June, 2012, when a little of the outstanding debts were paid.
On the whole, the indigenous contractors are being owed a whopping sum of about N3 billion. It was gathered that they are also angry with the prompt payment to multi-national contractors leaving local contractors at the mercy of loans they got from banks and other sources that are threatening to seize their collaterals.
Investigations revealed that in October, 2012 alone, multi-national contractors were paid a sum of N6 billion. These include Arab Contractors, Gilmor, Setraco, SCC and Salam amongst others.
However, it was revealed the meeting came to an uncontrollable stage when it was announced that one of its Board of Trustees member, Chief C.Y. Ezeji, died out of frustration of the plight of his unpaid contract sum and another executive member is currently receiving medication in India.
Sources at the FCT confirmed that the non-payment to indigenous contractors on the one hand and total preference for multinationals, on the other recently pitted the FCT Minister, Senator Bala Mohammed against the Minister of State, Olajumoke Akinjide.
Besides, the contractors reasoned that without the payments, it has become difficult to pay artisans, who contribute immensely to the sustenance of the society.
At a meeting of the Association last week, members threatened the Executive for alleged insensitivity to their plight and warned that they would take to the streets if their issue is not given urgent attention.
As a backdrop of the meeting, the Association has given the FCT Administration a two-week ultimatum to effect payment of outstanding debts on all Matured Bills.
The Members complained that the Executive of the Association have not allowed them to meet with the authority of the FCT over their payment.
Another grievance of the Association is that on several occasions they have written to the FCT minister requesting to have an audience to find amicable ways of settling the outstanding debts but on each occasion, the request was turned down.