Bureaucracy Threatens US$400m National Rural Telephony Project in Nigeria
After the Commissioning of the US$300 million phase 1 of the National Rural Telephony Project, (NRPT) last May by former president Olusegun Obasanjo, whose construction began in 2002 with about 218 Local Government Areas (LGAs) coverage spanning a total of 150,226 lines, the prospect for the schedule completion of the remaining 338 LGA with total numbers of 487,774 lines in the phases II and III may not be realised again following what the contractors called government's lack of commitment.
President of Huawei Technologies in Nigeria James Lee who is handling the US$100 million Phase II project while on a working visits to the Minister of Information and Communication, John Odey in his office in Abuja said that the Federal government has been able to pay only part of 15 per cent of its counterpart funding. Another hiccup to the project, Lee told the minister, was difficulty encountered in getting site allocation in most of the local government headquarters, meaning the company cannot survey the sites and write the Bill of Quanta.
After listening to Lee, appeal for his urgent intervention to save the project from turning into a white elephant, the Minister said the government would not allow the project become moribund as it was critical to the development of Nigeria's rural areas. He said that government is serious about the project and would ensure it plays its part.
He assured his audience that the project will be completed in spite of the delay and its management handed over to local operators. "It is not going to be operated by government.
“It will be run by local operators at the rural level. We are also working out an arrangement to have a safe business environment in view of the rapid expansion of the major operators. So that at least they would be able to now have a catchments area within the rural communities," Odey said.