Julius Berger Nigeria Ltd. said it was working on meeting the schedule of the construction work at Abuja-Kaduna-Zaria-Kano Road.
The explanation came against the backdrop of allegation of “slow pace of work” levelled by the House of Representatives’ Works Committee chairman, Hon. Abubakar Bichi, against the company.
The company said at the public hearing conducted by the Works Committee of the House of Representatives in Abuja, and in response to the Committee chairman, Hon. Abubakar Bichi’s charge of “slow pace of work”, the Managing Director of Julius Berger Nigeria Plc, Dr. Lars Richter, explained that all things being equal, Julius Berger was “working on schedule, meeting and exceeding planned construction milestones and focused on delivering the project as contracted.”
On the Abuja-Kano Road project, Dr Richter submitted that all requisite human and technical resources, even new technologies, had been mobilised and deployed in the whole length of the project corridor to ensure successful completion of the works as duly contracted.
The Chairman of the House Works Committee subsequently led his colleagues on site visits to some of the ongoing road works in the North-west geo-political zone, including the Abuja-Kano Road project.
Bichi was later quoted tongave said that, out of N155 Billion cost for the Kano-Abuja Road, N70Billion had been released to Julius Berger, adding that “from Abuja to Kaduna which is 165kilometers, only 10km of work has been done.”
Bichi also said that of the 75 kilometers project section from Kaduna to Zaria, only 6kms of work had been completed; and in the 157 kilometers from Zaria to Kano, only about less than 20kms had been completed; meaning that only about 10% of the works had been implemented.
The contractor, however, informed the House Works Committee at the public hearing that the project works had progressed to 49%, stressing that the onus of proof that only 10 % of the works had been done rested on the person(s) making the assertion.
The Company wondered which scope of works was being used in the computation being applied to determine Bichi’s 10% and the contractor’s 49% claims respectively on the progress allegedly made on the project thus far?
It said checks indicated that the House was likely being in pursuit of a selfish agenda and “does not possess the technical know-how to carry out an evaluation that would stand the test of time.:
It stated that this much was revealed based on enquiry sought to clear the opaque allegations aimed at casting aspersion on the Abuja- Kano Road project, thereby distracting the public.
It said the payment of about N70 billion referred to by Hon Bichi was made to the contractor, adding that it was discovered it included the initial 15% of the project cost of N155 billion that was paid as advance payment for the contract.
The company said the public needed to be told by the Federal Government if the contract was rehabilitation or total reconstruction of the entire project from Abuja through Kaduna, Zaria to Kano and “what work is the contractor expected to carry out?”
It stated that Nigerians would also want to know whether Julius Berger, the contractor, was actually working according to the schedule agreed by the parties to the contract.
According to the company, “If the answer is yes, what then is the basis for all the furore being hyped against the on-going Abuja-Kano Road project by the House Committee on Works?”
The claim is that based on analytical perspective, a relevant suspicion logically arises whether by any circumstance, it is possible that there are pending and unresolved contractual issues that are hindering the scheduled and operational execution of the project works.
There are however observed disruptive breaks in the progressive flow of the works occasioned by noticed electrical poles standing in the right of way on certain portions of the road project which is constituting a hindrance to project progress, beyond the control of a contractor.
According to the company, a sincere, honest and patriotic clarification of the above issues to the concerned public will go a long way to douse the unhelpful misconceptions and to a large extent, falsehoods that have dogged and polluted the narrative of the Abuja-Kano Road project in the recent time.
It added that whatever the considerations and interests at play on the road project, the interests of the people and the strategic long-term socio-economic well-being of the nation should be prioritised and allowed to prevail. (Culled from Forefront magazine)