By Jonathan Ugbal
The Cross River State Infrastructure Company Limited (INFRACROSS) has said that only 2 Cross River based companies were among the 40 that submitted about 72 bids for for the proposed 275.5 kilometers Superhighway despite the state extending the bid window twice.
The Chairman, INFRACROSS, High Chief Eugene Akeh who disclosed this to CrossRiverWatch in an exclusive interview, said it was a sad situation and called out Cross Riverians who own or operate construction companies to up their ante to prevent capital flight.
“Only one or two were from Cross River, but the main ones are from outside Cross River,” said Mr. Akeh who maintained that, this was not in any way, an attempt to spite Cross Riverians in that sector of the economy.
“We expect that in a project of that magnitude, Cross River owned construction firms will take precedence, but, most of these companies came from outside.
“For 72 bids to come from about 40 companies which are not Cross River owned, it is so much. Even at the federal level, people do not respond that way.
“We are concerned because we expect many companies from the state as possible. This is because what has been happening in the state is capital flight. For a poor state like us where you want the economy to grow, we will want our people to respond to things like that.
“We are saying so because there are so many jobs to come. We are not saying it to castigate people, but, we are saying so because these are preliminary works; so that when the main work comes, we want to see this number substantially made up of our own people so that we can build the financial capacity of the people.
“This way when neighboring states like Anambra, Imo or Rivers advertise for a contract, a Cross River based company can go there and say we participated in the 275 kilometers Cross River Superhighway, it will give you advantage over other persons.
“If federal ministry of works is advertising for contractors and you quote and say that ypu were part of a project that, for the first time, it is the President that approved the EIA, it is high level, it will place you at a high level,” Mr. Akeh said and stressed the need for Cross River owned companies to put their houses in order to compete at the highest level.
“This will help build maintenance, capacity, financial capability and then ego for people to be able to see beyond the moment that they can compete with the rest of the country.
“It is not right that every time we have a job, people from outside come to do. When those states advertise their own, we don’t have companies that go there and build. It is what the Governor and INFRACROSS have been saying.
“This administration aims at building capacity and the only capacity you can build which will show in your resume is prove that you participated, even if it is grass cutting, even if it is de-bushing.
“Look at the Rice City, a company came to INFRACROSS that it participated in the de-bushing of the Superhighway, it gives you a plus plus plus.
“We must come out of this idea that we are like a colony. Every time we have something, people must come from outside to do it and then put it in their own resume to go and get bigger jobs,” he said.
Also, he added that: “I hope this is clear, this is not to castigate anybody, it is to encourage people.It is good that this happened, that it is preliminary works. We are doing it in such a way that when the main jobs are coming up because this is not just about the Superhighway, we are talking of works in the deep Seaport, works in the 140 kilometers road from Yala to the Ranch, works all over the state; the industrial area.
“We want our own people to build capacity so that after this administration, a Cross River company can vie for a job in Anambra, in Ogun, why should they come and vie here but we can’t go there? That is known as capital flight.
“Rather than our people seeing it that way, they are busy bickering on so many things. These are the main issues that I will want people to look at,” Mr. Akeh said.
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