By Jonathan Ugbal
The renovation of the New Cafeteria complex of the Cross River University of Technology (CRUTECH) Calabar is yet to be completed three years after the contract documents were signed by the immediate past administration of Senator Liyel Imoke, CrossRiverWatch findings reveal.
Former governor Liyel Imoke had in September 2012, awarded a contract for the conversion of the CRUTECH New Café (as it is popularly known) to a Modern Multipurpose hall under the supervision of the then special projects commissioner, Bassey Ika-Oqua.
The facility was amongst several others, upon completion to have a main auditorium with a seating capacity of about 2,000 with several other apartments within to be commercialized with retail outlets that were supposed to make the cafe a major revenue generating point for the institution. It was to be used by students, management and the public as well.
Before then, the building which could easily be spotted as the biggest and largest in terms of length and breadth, served briefly as the Students Union Government secretariat and was used as venue for local government students association for meetings and as examination centers and lecture rooms until the contract to renovate it was awarded.
Ika-Oqua during the handing over ceremony lauded Imoke for the idea saying “converting the Cafeteria complex into a multipurpose hall is a unique project that is of much concern to the governor (Imoke)”, with the then Deputy Vice Chancellor Administration of the institution, Dr Ikpi Ugot in his remarks also lauding the initiative and suing for cooperation from the construction firm, adding that “from now till the date of project completion, we shall regard Crystal Brioni Construction Group as an internal property of the institution”.
The ceremony was attended by the then Education Commissioner, Professor Offiong Offiong, Permanent Secretaries of Special Projects and Education Ministries, Stephen Bette and Anne Odey, respectively and the Deputy Vice Chancellor Academic, Professor Giddings Arikpo, Dean Students Affairs, Dr. Uduak Effiong and Director Academic Planning, Dr. Ijeoma Archibong.
The firm moved into site shortly with the time for completion pecked at 13 months but the time passed with the project abandoned. Shortly after, work commenced until the eve of the tenure of the Imoke’s administration and the beginning of the Ayade’s administration when activities resumed only during a barrage of inspections which a student (names withheld) tagged as “De Javu” (a French term to describe seeing something which has been seen before) only to stop again shortly after that.
The deputy governor, Professor Ivara Esu had on June 25th 2015 inspected the site with CrossRiverWatch in a report titled “State Government Directs Contractor To Deliver CRUTECH New Café In First 100 Days”, published on June 26, 2015 disclosing that Esu had directed the constructing firm to deliver the project before the current administration reaches 100 days in office and also directed the Vice Chancellor, Professor Owan Enoh to ensure speedy completion by taking charge of inspection as the Permanent Secretary, Special Projects had his hands full. He said “VC I want you to take charge”.
Esu also expressed concern over the pace of work and delay in completion as according to him, the project was not held back by funds since it was been funded from the reserve fund.
On his 100 days in office and maiden broadcast, governor Ayade failed to mention whether work on the project is on-going or completed.
A recent visit to the complex situated opposite Hall 1 and 2 hostels in the Calabar campus of the varsity by CrossRiverWatch shows that workers have deserted the site with next to nothing done after the deputy governor’s visit.
The edifice is currently been utilized by the institution sparingly as only two events have been held there since work began; the recent matriculation ceremony which was shifted there in the expected eventuality of heavy downpour and the induction ceremony of the recent graduates of the Engineering Faculty.
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