By Christiana Ekpa.
The Managing Director of Julius Berger Nigeria Plc, Engr. Dr. Lars Richter has stated that the Company is highly reliable in terms “working on a schedule, meeting and exceeding planned construction milestones to deliver the 2nd Niger bridge, Abuja-Kano road and Lagos-Shagamu expressway projects as contracted”.
Engr Richter equally disclosed that all requisite human and technical resources, as well as new technologies, have been mobilised to all sections of the projects to ensure successful completion as scheduled. He 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 at the weekend in National Assembly Abuja, before the House of Representatives Committee on Works investigating “the slow pace of work on the ongoing federal road projects”. Chaired Abubakar Kabir Abubakar,
The Chairman of the 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.
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.
At the hearing, a rather well comported Julius Berger MD, Dr. Lars Richter, 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.
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.
“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.”