By Christiana Ekpa
The House of the Representatives Committee on Works and the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing yesterday questioned the capacity of Messrs Julius Berger to concurrently handle Abuja-Kaduna-Zaria-Kano road respectively.
This was just as the House Committee expressed its displeasure when Julius Berger alongside officials of Ministry of Works and the Federal Road Safety Corps appeared before it at a public hearing on Thursday.
Recall that the N155 billion contract for the reconstruction of Abuja-Kaduna-Zaria-Kano road was awarded to the Construction giant Julius Berger with a completion period of 36 months.
The Chairman of the Committee, Abubakar Kabir Abukar (APC,Kano) said that Julius Berger had by its actions and inactions created a situation leading to loss of lives and traffic gridlock Abuja-Kano road despite being paid mobilisation of over N50 billion.
He said that, the project is going at a snail speed and expressed fear that, Julius Berger may not meet up and complete the project in 36 months as stated in the contract agreement.
Abubakar also said that, the House is not confident on the construction company’s capacity to concurrently handle the various contracts it was awarded across the country.
He lamented that, the Abuja-Kano road was of strategic importance to not just people of the region but to all Nigerians adding that, the accidents being recorded as well as the hardships being experienced by people plying the road cannot be justified by the company.
The Committee at end of the meeting the resolved as follows “the committee demands a monthly progress reports on the Abuja-Kaduna-Zaria-Kano road from the ministry of works and Housing.
“The committee resolves to invite the Bureau of public procurement (BPP)to brief it on the certificate of “No Objection” issused on the proposed 3rd lane on the Abuja-Kaduna-Zaria-Kano road
“The committee invites the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) to provide it with all details of payment made to Julius Berger and the justification for those payments
“The Julius Berger should immediately open up the completed but closed portion on the Abuja-Kaduna-Zaria-Kano road.
“ In view of the above , the committee directs the Ministry of Works and Housing to consider the option of involving other contractors to handle different sections of the road to ensure the project is completed on time and save lives and property,” he said.
According to him, “this meeting has been convened under the provisions of Section 88 and 89 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), which empower us to invite any organization, agency or person to make clarification where necessary, with purpose to expose corruption, inefficiency or waste in the execution or administration of laws within our legislative competence and in the disbursement or administration of funds appropriated by us,” he said.
Chairman of the committee informed that despite collecting about 32% of the total contract sum, the work done as discovered by the House Consultant was not commensurate with the funds collected by Julius Berger.
Making observations, members of the committee faulted the ministry of works regarding the award of many contracts to Julius Berger which they said seems to have overstretched the company’s capacity leading to the delays being experienced.
Members of the committee informed the construction company that, the company risks losing the contract if it fails to complete the project within the stipulated time.
They frowned at the procurement process and how the contract was awarded to the company adding that, there are several indigenous or other foreign construction companies that can handle the contracts but were allegedly not given chance to bid for the contract.
Responding, representative of Julius Berger, Benjamin Bott, who is the company’s Regional Technical Manager said that, the company is doing everything possiblento complete the work as scheduled.
He added that, they regretted the loss of lives and inconveniences caused people using the Abuja-Kano as well as the Lagos-Ibadan highways.
Mr Bott informed that, palliative measures are being put in place to reduce the hardship being experienced by motorists on the road by patching potholes and collaborating with the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) to control traffic and reduce accidents.
He disclosed that, some sections were not opened to traffic as required because they have not been completed as seen by people.
The Julius Berger official however informed the committee that, about 60 kilometers of co.