By Ogar Monday House of Assembly Correspondent Follow @ogar_monday
Following the January 2017 court order that led to the ejection of the Calabar Urban Development Authority (CUDA) from its former office along IBB way in Calabar, the Cross River State capital, the Executive Secretary, Mr. Joe-Mary Ekeng has said that the agency operated “from under a tree” for 6 months.
Mr. Ekeng also says the agency was stranded and even when a place was picked in a building at the St. Margaret’s hospital at Moore road, it was later demolished in November 2017.
“So right now we still don’t have an office and this has grossly affected our revenue,” Mr. Ekeng told the House Committee on Appropriation on Wednesday during the defense of the 2018 proposed spending of the agency.
He lamented that CUDA has been limited to just Calabar South local government area as the ministry of environment has since taken over their duties in other areas and outsourced them to private contractors.
When asked to defend the idea behind the outsourcing of CUDA’s responsibility, the commissioner of environment Engineer Mike Eraye told the committee that it was done for effective service delivery and to make the job better.
Mr. Eraye argued that the contractors were more efficient and diligent and, the ministry thought, would do a better job as was seen in the past years in capital.
But, the committee did not buy this as Mrs. Rita Abam (PDP, Boki 1) questioned the rationale behind taking duties that were being handled effectively by CUDA and giving same to contractors at a higher cost.
“Calabar has been known for its cleanliness even when CUDA was in charge of all these, I wonder which type (of) economics allows you to take it from them, and give to a private organization for a higher cost,” Mrs. Abam said and advised the ministry to allow some of the agencies under it to perform instead of taking over activities from them.
Mr. Eraye had earlier raised eyebrows when he tried defending a suspicious item in his ministry’s budget. The ministry proposed spending NGN300 million for the conduct of an environmental impact assessment of projects long completed by past administrations such as the Marina resort, Obudu mountain resort among others.
Cross River Governor, Senator Ben Ayade had on November 30, 2017 presented a proposed spending of NGN1.3 Trillion for the 2018 fiscal year with mixed reactions trailing his decision despite the2017 budget performing poorly at just 11 percent implementation official sources say.
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