Rotimi Amaechi, minister for transportation, says the administration of Goodluck Jonathan paid a contractor N34bn for the dredging of River Niger.
He said the Muhammadu Buhari administration will spend only N100 million on the project.
Amaechi however failed to say whether the funds released by the last administration was expended on the dredging.
The minister made the disclosure on Thursday at a conference on ‘Fast-tracking Port Reforms’ hosted by the newspaper in collaboration with the ministry of transportation and Epsilon Limited.
The minister said the Jonathan administration had initially approved N47 billion for the project but N34 billion was released to the contractor.
He explained that the government would be able to dredge the river with N100 million using dredgers owned by the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) which he said were neglected by the previous administration.
“When the River Niger was first approved for dredging by the previous administration, it was approved for N47billion and N34billion was paid to the contractor. Dancers were called in and there was a party,” Amaechi said.
“We are not dredging the River Niger with billions of naira; we are dredging the River Niger with just N100m. When we flagged it off recently, did you see us dancing? Was there a party? I just went to see the governor and told him that the project will start today and will be finished in one month.
“The governor said he will accompany me, and I said ‘ok’. So, I asked the governor to flag it off since it’s located in his state. “People are wondering how on earth we are going to dredge the River Niger for N100m when the previous government awarded same contract for N47billion? But we are going to dredge the River Niger, using dredgers owned by the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA).
“NIWA has dredgers, but the previous government preferred to give contractors money to dredge the river with private dredgers while NIWA’s dredgers were lying idle somewhere in Port Harcourt.
“The NIWA MD told me the agency has dredgers, but it’s been hired out to somebody in Port Harcourt. So, we had dredgers, but the previous administration hired them out to some persons in Port Harcourt while paying a contractor billions of naira to use privately owned dredgers at a very high cost. I told the NIWA MD that I will look for money to fuel their dredgers, and work has started. That is why we are dredging the river Niger with just N100m.”