JULIUS BERGER CELEBRATES SUSTAINABILITY AS CENTRAL TO ITS BUSINESS PRINCIPLES, OPERATIONAL CULTURE AND SUCCESS AT 51ST AGM IN ABUJA
“We remain positive with regards to the potentials ahead of us in consideration of our proven ability to face challenges and find success in opportunities over time. Julius Berger continues to be in a strong position to succeed as a partner in progress, to the Nation, to our clients, communities and staff”.
-Julius Berger MD, Engr. Dr. Lars Richter
The country`s leading engineering construction company and widely preferred infrastructures development partner of choice, Julius Berger Nigeria Plc, held its 51st Annual General Meeting at the prestigious Shehu Musa Yar`dua Centre, Abuja last Thursday.
The tone for the successful AGM was set by the Chairman of the Company, Mutiu Sunmonu, CON, after the rendition of the National Anthem. Sunmonu`s opening remarks was a celebration of the increasingly successful and enviable value-addition competence and history that has become the defining operational emblem and unrelenting trajectory of the pace-setting Julius Berger brand in Nigeria. “I am very proud to be associated with the great Julius Berger brand in Nigeria. It is my joy to be here today to preside over this meeting as Chairman of Julius Berger Nigeria Plc, a most worthy company that has and continue to so very productively, positively, and progressively impact on lives and communities all across Nigeria’, said Mutiu Sunmonu.
The Managing Director of Julius Berger Nigeria Plc, Engr. Dr. Lars Richter, who cued in on the Chairman`s positive tee off of the meeting, thereafter, thanked shareholders for joining the 51st Annual General Meeting which he said was the 2nd ever virtual AGM in the annals of the company`s history. He attributed the virtual nature of the meeting to the persisting effects of the global covid-19 pandemic. According to Richter, “Over the past year, we have successfully adapted to new ways of working and meeting. Last year, we held our first virtual AGM, and this year again we are meeting via web-stream, in consideration of continued COVID-19 risks”. Richter, however, expressed optimism and said: “We look forward to the time when we will come back together for large in-person events, but for now, the health and safety of all is priority”.
Dr. Richter then proceeded to review the business and operations of the company for the year 2020, as well as shared an overview of Julius Berger’s overarching business strategy which, he said, pivoted on targets for each pillar, namely, the company`s core construction business, subsidiaries and diversification. Highlighting and celebrating the company`s sustainability business philosophy, Richter ebulliently, and to encouraging applause from shareholders, reported that: “Despite the numerous challenges faced last year, stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic, related lockdowns and subsequent economic crisis, Julius Berger achieved a very good performance in 2020”. The MD attributed the healthy financial result and positive cash status to the hard work, dedication and flexibility of the company`s entire value chain.
Richter further said that to maintain business viability, JBN Plc conducted a number of stress tests and implemented a business continuity plan, as part of the company`s resilience strategy, protecting staff health and safeguarding their means of livelihood; ensuring no jobs were lost due to COVID-19.
On its CSR efforts since the onset of the pandemic, Richter reported that: “In the face of crisis, Julius Berger maintained its strong stance as a pillar of support to our communities and the nation at large”. Richter highlighted that beyond the protective measures enacted towards staff safety and well-being, Julius Berger supported Federal and State Governments, as well as key public agencies and healthcare providers in their fight against the pandemic. Such donations included PPE and beds for hospitals as well as direct relief to citizens through Julius Berger`s Food for our Communities Campaign, where staple food supplies were donated to communities in need.
With regard to significant achievements made by the company in 2020, Richter said that Julius Berger, bested its challenges and outperformed its COVID-19 resilience scenario; fulfilling commitments to progress through timely construction, especially for projects of national priority. This development, Richter said, enabled the company to extend a dividend payment to its loyal shareholders. JBN, he said, successfully commissioned several projects, including the New Technology Building in Abuja; Okpai Power Plant, Phase 2, in Delta State; eleven Rehabilitated Roads in Rivers State as well as the Rebisi Flyover in Port Harcourt
JBN, Richter said, also acquired a number of new projects including the construction of the Department of Petroleum Resources headquarters in Abuja; a specialized Hospital, several roads and flyovers in Port Harcourt; Phase 2 of the NIS New Technology Building, after successful completion of phase 1; Lagos High Order Roads which are critical to the functioning of Lagos’s road network; and an award for an expansion of scope of work on the Abuja-Kano road, from rehabilitation to full reconstruction, a road which forms a critical part of Nigeria’s A2 highway, a main road artery and highway system with links to neighbouring countries. According to Richter, because the road is of critical importance to Nigeria, it is understandably a high priority legacy project of the President Buhari administration. Very importantly, also, because the Abuja-Kano Road project is the largest in the history of the company, therefore, the project will remain a key focus for Julius Berger, said Richter. “The project is tremendous in scope, it will be challenging, but we are up for the challenge. We have the knowhow, the manpower and the machine power to deliver faster and more efficiently than any other contractor”, Richter confidently assured. “Our pioneering use of an innovative recycling methodology for road construction, which is being used on the Abuja-Kano Road reduces time and costs, and is environmentally friendly. Work is underway to deliver the Abuja-Kano Road… as we expect to receive the advance payment in the second quarter of 2021”, he said.
Dr. Richter also reported on the Second River Niger Bridge, another priority project of both the Government and the Company. Julius Berger, he said, has continued to work day and night to ensure timely completion of the project. The bridge, he added, is being constructed “to the highest standards – meeting today’s needs, and fit for the future”. The Bridge`s highly qualitative completion, Richter, a civil engineering expert, professionally assures, is aimed at user safety, reduction of traffic turnaround time, increased accessibility, and also to boost the region’s commercial integration and viability.
On the Lagos-Shagamu Expressway, where Julius Berger was very recently commended by the House of Reps Works Committee for achieving tremendous work, Richter reported that “steady pace of progress continues to be achieved… and we remain dedicated to our steady pace of progress going to completion, with overtime work being carried-out, including on weekends and holidays”.
On the ongoing strategic Bodo-Bonny road works, which Richter described as “a very significant milestone project”, he also reported that “…two major milestones have been achieved. The road at Bodo has been completed and is already having a positive impact on communities. The Afa bridge, one of three main bridges has also been completed”. Works for nine additional mini bridges, he added, are also ongoing simultaneously as are works at Bonny Island.
Other great projects that are ongoing and growing steadily towards full realization include the 20-storey (with a helipad) FAFMA Office Tower in Lagos; construction of the 4-storey Office of the National Security Advisor where works are ongoing to the full satisfaction of the client; more Port Harcourt Flyovers and Roads to bring greater improvement to River State`s infrastructure; and the uniquely designed architectural 9,000 m2 worship centre masterpiece in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom Capital.
On the development of Julius Berger’s subsidiaries, Richter reported that the process was initiated years ago, “as a way to ensure horizontal integration and efficiency, guarantee quality and make investments in the industrial sector in Nigeria”. He added that currently, the company’s subsidiaries have already achieved a strong growth, beyond serving just core construction business. Julius Berger, he further said, “aims is to continue growing the group subsidiaries to reach their full potential”.
Speaking on the company’s outlook for the rest of 2021 and beyond, Engr. Dr Lars Richter listed key targets for Julius Berger’s core construction business to include further investment in equipment, both in preparation for works on the Abuja-Kano Road and to maintain performance standards across all projects; continuous strengthening of the company’s client mix “to achieve a balance of projects in both the public and private sectors”; continuous accomplishment and delivery of progress on National Priority Projects, “with the goal of remaining the contractor of choice – due to our reliability, capacity and unmatched capabilities”. The Julius Berger operational helmsman further emphasized that the company will continue to work to sustain its leadership of the construction sector in the country “through innovation and technical advancement, maintaining our position as the benchmark for construction excellence in Nigeria”.
Julius Berger, Richter confidently asserted, maintains a robust Governance system; with appropriate policies and systems in place to maintain the company`s culture of integrity, and also support its positively productive performance and a sustainable business model overall. “Our robust sustainability philosophy and practice extends beyond philanthropy to social inclusion, gender equality, prioritization of environmental responsibility and reporting for continued progress”, said Richter. “We remain positive with regards to the potentials ahead of us in consideration of our proven ability to face challenges and find success in opportunities over time. Julius Berger continues to be in a strong position to succeed; as a partner in progress, to the Nation, to our clients, communities and staff”, concluded Engr. Dr. Lars Richter.