By Aminu Imam
The Association of Indigenous Contractors of FCT has again urged the Federal Emergency Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA) to commence the process of liquidating the N4 billion outstanding debt it owe its members without further delay.
This is even as the Vice Chairman of the Association, Alhaji Mohammed Musa, enjoined its members to sheet their sword while the association explore all available options to make FERMA fulfill its contractual agreements with the local contractors.
The members of the association a fortnight ago threatened a showdown with the management of the road maintenance agency over the non-payment of over N4 billion owed them for jobs already completed since 2012.
The local contractors regretted that despite assurances given to them, the management of FERMA is yet to expedite action in the payment of the debts owed them.
The contractors had threatened to march to the FERMA head office in Abuja and to the National Assembly to protest the non-payment of their monies long after the completion of their various contracts.
However, Musa who spoke in Abuja at the weekend, urged his members to stay action on their planned protests as the Association is leaving no stone unturned in its efforts to get FERMA to offset the debts.
He noted that the current security challenges facing the country does not permit such extreme actions as the planned protest may the hijacked by unscrupulous elements to cause public disaffection.
The Vice Chairman therefore, tasked the management of FERMA to fast track the payment to its members as most of them have suffered untold hardship following the continued non payment of the contractors.
He noted that some of their members sourced funds from financial institutions to execute the various projects, noting that many have fallen into bad times as most of them have been forced to forego their collaterals as they were unable to service the loans.
He noted that while road construction is one of the pivotal elements of President Jonathan’s transformation agenda, it is regrettable that the agency of government is taking the credit of the labour of its members without paying for the jobs done.
Musa further stressed the need for FERMA to pay the contractors as they are key in poverty reduction efforts of government as the bulk of their staff are drawn from local communities were they had executed the contracts.
“Most of our members are now being forced to lay off their staff as they can no longer continue to shoulder the added responsibility of paying their staff wages when FERMA are not forthcoming in offsetting the debts”, the Vice Chairman further noted.