30 November 2012

Nigeria: Reps Mum On Findings in Failed U.S.$470 Million CCTV Project

Almost a year after the House of Representatives Committee on Public Procurement, Aid, Loans and Debt Management and Information Technology launched an investigation into the $470 million National Public Security Communications System (NPSCS) project being handled by Chinese firm, ZTE Corporation, nothing has been heard of its findings.

When LEADERSHIP enquired about the status of the findings from the Chairman, House Committee on Information and Communication Technology, Ibrahim Shehu, he said the report would be ready in a couple of weeks as the committee was at the time compiling its report.

Shehu told LEADERSHIP that "in the course of the joint committees' investigation, all players involved were invited and the committees paid visits to all the locations. The committee is presently compiling its report and, in a couple of weeks, the report will be ready and subsequently presented at plenary."

The lawmakers had, in December 2011, mandated its committees on Public Procurement, Aid, Loans and Debt Management and Information Technology to probe the project following allegations that the project was being implemented with substandard equipment and failed to meet specification.

It was learnt that the investigation resulted in a 10-man committee visiting China on a one-week trip, allegedly sponsored by ZTE, in April 2012, on a fact finding mission of projects previously executed by the firm in China, with a view to comparing the standard of work done there to what was being done in Nigeria.

Meanwhile, the completion of NPSCS, which was expected to be delivered in July 2011, according to the contract terms, is far behind schedule, even as no handover date has been fixed.

Part of the requirements in the contract terms is the provision of wireless voice service for the Nigerian Police, but this has been shrouded in controversy with yet no clear solution.

Sources close to the issue told LEADERSHIP that "from the very beginning, ZTE (officials) knew that the radio frequency for it was unavailable, but considering their own interests, they choose to hide the technical details from the government."

It was, however, gathered that ZTE had made a request for extra charges to solve the frequency problem from the federal government a month ago.

According to the source who did not want to be named, "ZTE offered two solutions, which will cost $50 million and $175 million for solutions. Ordinarily, these should cost less than $20 and $60 million respectively. This is even apart from the fact that the Nigerian government is not even supposed to bear the cost for these solutions," the source said.

Questions have also been raised about the efficiency of the CCTVs installed under the project, which are aimed at enhancing public security and helping security agencies to solve security challenges.

It was gathered from sources within the police that none of the five CCTV cameras along the Aminu Kano Crescent captured anything when a bomb went off at Banex Plaza late on the evening on July 3, this year, because the cameras do not function at night.

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