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 is “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, have been mobilised and deployed along the whole length of the project corridor to ensure successful completion of the works as duly contracted.
However, 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 that, out of N155 Billion cost for the Kano-Abuja Road, N70Billion has 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 has been completed; and in the 157 kilometers from Zaria to Kano, only about less than 20kms has been completed; meaning that only about 10% of the works have 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 rest on the person(s) making the assertion.
The question then arises as to which scope of works is 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 is on this note that Forefront sought to get a more balanced empirical, independent and urgent clarification to ascertain the actual progress that has been accomplished on the Abuja-Kano road project.
It is widely acknowledged by the Nigerian public and especially so in the built industry, that Julius Berger as fondly called, has a dependable history of delivering excellent and quality-rooted infrastructures in Nigeria. Some of its projects include the Eko Bridge in Lagos which was built in 1965 which establishes the company’s professional capabilities and project delivery prowess as recorded in different parts of the country.