Kwara to get ICT innovation hub, visual arts centre

·Govt okays asphalt overlay for 32km Ilesha Baruba Gwanara Road
·We won’t be left behind in new economy: Gov

Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq’s agenda to build a new economy in Kwara State got a major boost on Friday as the state Executive Council approved the construction of an information communication technology (ICT) innovation hub and Ilorin Visual Arts Centre, among other projects.

The approvals were given at the virtual SEC meeting at which cabinet members thoroughly debated and then approved the proposals for the innovation hub, the visual art centre, and the upgrade of the (inherited) 32kilometre Ilesha Baruba Gwanara Road to asphalt overlay.

The cabinet approved the upgrade of the Ilesha Baruba Gwanara Road to asphalt overlay at N265,412,446.50 to Messrs Duravil Engineering Ltd.

Commissioner for Works Suleiman Rotimi Iliasu told the cabinet that surface dressing of the road was first awarded to the same firm in October 2013 at N1,560,102,954.58.

It was reviewed upward to N2,156,953,404.58 and N2,361,904,549.95 in 2015 and 2017 respectively. On May 15th 2019, two weeks to the end of the past administration, the surface dressing project was again revised upward to N2,782,716,900.95 reportedly owing to price fluctuations.

Iliasu said the new administration met an outstanding balance of N934,587,553.50 to be paid to the contractor, but has negotiated to have the road upgraded to asphalt overlay for longer lifespan at the rate of N265,412,446.50.

The commissioner said the upgrade of the road to asphalt would bring the total balance to be paid to the company to N1,200,000,000.00.

After listening to a presentation by Commissioner for Enterprise Abdulwahab Femi Agbaje which detailed the relevance of the project to the state as well as the ministerial tender processes already done, the SEC also awarded the construction of an expansive ICT hub at the cost of N1,350,390,734.10 to Omron Construction Engineering Company Limited for a duration of 52 weeks.

Omron beat Habtob Global Construction Ventures to the project during the tender process that included newspaper adverts in the Punch and Herald of June 3rd 2020. Habtob had quoted N1,474,115,545:25 and a completion period of 64 weeks.

The innovation hub will create a unique space where hi-tech entrepreneurs, industries, researchers and investors could be brought together to create jobs and boost the state economy, Agbaje told the council, adding that the hub holds significant potentials for small and medium scale enterprises and startups in the north central region.

The council also awarded the construction of a state-of-the-art Visual Arts Centre — the first of its kind in the north central region — to Habtob Global Construction Ventures for N755,496,768.12 for a duration of 50 weeks.

The approval followed the council’s consideration of the ministerial tender process — including notice of tenders published in the Herald and the Nation newspapers of June 24th 2020 — which involved another bidder, Fast Approach Konstruction Limited that submitted a cost of N1,000,025,535.5 for the construction of the centre.

Commissioner for Communications Harriet Afolabi-Oshatimehin told the cabinet that the centre would create another entertainment hub as it would encompass a modern studio workshop for artists, arts gallery, art shops, and exhibition centre, cinematic post-production facility, restaurants, and café.

“This project will attract visitors, investors, create more jobs for our talented youths, develop skills, enhance the quality of cultural and social life of the citizens, contribute to the economic activities in tourism, art, entertainment industry and generate more revenue to stimulate the local economy,” she said.

The Governor, who chaired the cabinet meeting, expressed disappointment at the poor handling of the Ilesha Baruba Gwanara road by the previous administration but said the government has agreed to ensure its completion in the interest of the people.

He said both the visual arts centre and the innovation hub would create a new economy in the heart of central Nigeria, expressing confidence that the centres would attract investments from the creative and tech industries, and create massive employment opportunities in Kwara State.

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