The National Assembly has uncovered non-existent projects in the 2020 budget proposed by the National Inland Waterways Agency (NIWA) including the acquisition of vessels and barges as well as procurement of dredgers and other equipment.
Lawmakers uncovered the alleged fraud during the budget defence session held for the Federal Ministry of Transportation and NIWA by the House Committees on Inland Waterways, Land Transport, Ports and Harbours, and Marine Safety and Education, in collaboration with the Senate Committee on Marine Transport.
It was further discovered that over N4bn had been appropriated for the items between 2017 and 2019.
The controversial projects include the National Freight Office in Idi-Iroko, Ogun State, for which N40.5m was appropriated in 2017; N166m in 2018; and N99m in 2019, while N400m was proposed in the 2020 budget estimates of the Federal Ministry of Transportation’s budget line item ERGP 27102753.
Another is the procurement of dredgers and other related equipment/vessels, for which N1.5bn was proposed in NIWA’s 2020 proposal.
The lawmakers observed that N2.2bn was appropriated for the project in the 2018 and an additional N1bn in 2019.
The Deputy Chairman, House Committee on Waterways, Jarigbe Agom Jarigbe, condemned the infractions and called for a thorough investigation into the funds expended on the projects.