Lagos-Ibadan Expressway: Julius Berger May Pullout Over Non-Release Of Funds | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Lagos-Ibadan Expressway: Julius Berger May Pullout Over Non-Release Of Funds

julius berger
Posted: Jul 26, 2016 at 4:33 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Dada Jackson


 Lagos – There are strong indications that one of the contractors handling the reconstruction of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, Messrs Julius Berger (Nig) Plc, may soon pull out of the project if the Federal Government does not mobilise the company before the end of August.

Independent investigations revealed that the company has threatened to pull out of the scheme unless part of the contract sum was paid into its coffers within two weeks.

Julius Berger, it was learnt, had been under severe pressure by the Federal Government to continue work on the road despite not been paid for work done so far on the road since returning to site a couple of months ago.

According to a top official of the company, who spoke to Independent on condition of anonymity, the Federal Government was arm-twisting the company to continue work on the road.

“Since we returned to site about two months ago, the Federal Government has not paid us one kobo for job so far done on the road. Instead, what officials of the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing kept telling us is that our absence from the road would further cause untold hardship to motorists plying the road.

“But they forget to appreciate the fact that so far we have been spending our own meager resources to fund our activities on the road. They further posited, that we are responsible for the slow pace of development on the road as a result of our refusal to fully mobilise our personnel and equipment to the road”, he noted.

According to him, since the contract for the reconstruction of the road was awarded to Messrs Julius Berger (Nig) Plc and RCC by the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan, no significant payment had been made by the Federal Government to the company for the rehabilitation of the expressway.

He pointed out that Julius Berger was contracted to handle the reconstruction of the expressway from the old tollgate at Ojota to Shagamu intersection (known as Section one), while RCC was to handle the reconstruction of the road from Shagamu to Ibadan (Section two).

He said unequivocally that there was no way the company would continue to work on the road beyond the third week of August if no payment was made to it.

When contacted for his comment on the matter, the Director in charge of Public Private Partnership (PPP) office in the ministry responsible for overseeing the road project, Engineer Babatunde Ekunsunmi, declined comment.

According to him, he had been redeployed from the office, adding that another director had been reassigned to oversee the project.

The Director of Highways (South-West), Engineer John Ibe, said that the supervision of the road was no longer under his purview.

However, Independent investigations revealed that the ministry was delaying payment of the outstanding sum due to the company and RCC until the new minister in charge of the ministry, Babatunde Fashola, was done with the reconciliation of the figures quoted by the two companies for the execution of the road project.

A source at the ministry told Independent that the ministry would definitely mobilise the two companies but that would be after all the reconciliation process had been concluded.

It was learnt that funds had been released by the Federal Government for some specific road projects across the country of which the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway is one of them.

The lingering non-mobilisation, according to observers, may worsen the condition of the road especially this rainy season and may well spell hard times for commuters.

It would be recalled that the contract for the reconstruction of the road was re-awarded to Messrs Julius Berger and RCC by former President Goodluck Jonathan after the former contractor handling the project, Bi-Courtney Highways Services Limited (BCHSL), was asked to hands off the project in 2012.

Bi-Courtney Highways Services Limited, a company owned by Mr. Wale Babalakin, was awarded the contract for the reconstruction of the road under a build, operate and transfer (BOT) agreement at a sum of N85.9 billion.

The concession was granted in July 2009.

Babalakin as at the time the contract was revoked claimed that he had spent about $300 million.

According to a source at BCHSL, up and until when the contract was terminated, the company claimed that it had completed the patching and overlaying of bad portions of the highway, adding that its $6.5 million asphalt plant was seized by Ogun State government.