The Managing Director of Nigeria’s leading engineering construction company, Julius Berger Nigeria Plc, Engr. Dr. Lars Richter has confidently stated that the highly reliable company is “working on a schedule, meeting and exceeding planned construction milestones and will deliver the 2nd Niger bridge, Abuja-Kano road and Lagos-Shagamu expressway projects as contracted”.
Richter who said all requisite human and technical resources, even new technologies, have been mobilised to all sections of the projects to ensure successful completion as scheduled also emphasized that all the contracts for the three top priority projects of the Federal Government, were duly awarded to Julius Berger following due process.
Dr Richter made the assertion on Thursday at the National Assembly Abuja during a hearing by the House of Representatives Committee on Works investigating what the Chairman of the Committee, Honourable Abubakar Kabir Abubakar, described as the “the slow pace of work on the ongoing federal road projects”.
The Chairman of the House Works Committee set the hearing rolling when he delivered the agenda of the hearing as an enquiry into what procurement process Julius Berger went through for the award of the contracts for the projects; the cost each of the projects were awarded for; and completion periods at which the projects were contracted to be delivered.
A member of the Committee, Honourable Kaojewhile acknowledging that Julius Berger is a renowned engineering construction contractor in Nigeria, had said the House of Representatives for which the Works Committee acts at the public hearing, has legislative, appropriative as well as oversight functions over the prudent and successful execution of capital projects in the country. This, he said, is the basis for the public hearing on the projects at issue.
At the hearing, a rather well comported Julius Berger MD, Dr. Lars Richter, very respectfully but emphatically denied a suggestion that Julius Berger did not get the contracts by due process. According to Richter, Julius Berger lawfully bidded for the projects, after which the rest of the contract award process remained the statutory work and responsibility of the Ministry of Works to handle.
Responding further on the issue of due process for the awards, Richter said the Bureau for Public Procurement (BPP) duly issued letters of No Objectionfor the projects as required by extant procurement law.
In response to the House Works Committee Chairman’s statement that the procurement process for projects in Nigeria is of three types, namely, Selective, Competitive and Direct procurement, Engr. Dr. Lars Richter said: “We are an engineering contracting company, and as a going business concern, we reasonably bid for projects, but we are not by law part of the official procurement process that is the statutory duty of the Ministry.
Continuing further, Dr Richter said: “It is the Ministry of Works that receives a Letter of No Objection to any contract; not our company. Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) itself vets the rates contractors submit to the Ministry, and the Ministry again takes the rates vetted by the BPP to the Federal Executive Council for approval by the President in Council. Julius Berger is not at all entitled to a say in the process apart from the submission of our bid for a project with the Ministry. In the circumstance, I, therefore, cannot and did not say Julius Berger did not follow due process of award for the projects. We lawfully bidded for the jobs and were duly awarded the projects.”
A high point of Thursday’s hearing was Dr. Richter’s confident assurance that in all the projects, Julius Berger was, technically speaking, working assiduously within the schedules of panned works, and even working ahead of time in some scheduled elements of the works.
The Julius Berger MD was by a motion carried by the Committee put on oath before he spoke at the hearing, and by another motion moved by the Deputy Chairman of the Committee, Julius Berger was asked to go back and put forward to the Committee a formally signed presentation to the Committee on the three projects, the subject matter of the hearing.
The Chairman of the House Committee on Works, Honourable Abubakar Kabir Abubakar, thereafter adjourned the public hearing.