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Reps query BPP over award of road projects to Julius Berger

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The House of Representatives has indicted the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) for breaching laid down rules on the award of a contract to Julius Berger.

The Committee on Works led by Mr. Abubakar Kabir wondered why the BPP issued a no-objection certificate to only Julius Berger to handle construction of 400 kilometres roads, namely the second Niger Bridge, Abuja-Kaduna and Lagos-Ibadan projects.

Head of BPP, Mr. Mamman Ahmadu, while testifying before the panel, absolved himself of blame, saying no objection certificate was issued during the President Goodluck Jonathan-led administration.

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Ahmadu, who expressed concern over the delay in the completion of the projects, said: “I’m not happy with the work so far. The Lagos-Ibadan project was conceived as a public-private partnership, but no performance from the concessioner. It was awarded during Jonathan’s time and because of poor performance, it was re-awarded.

“The second Niger Bridge likewise started as BPP project, but failed to perform and it was converted to a contract financed by the government and started by Julius Berger.

“Abuja-Kaduna-Kano road was initiated to open competitive bidding and was later given out too. It was much later because budgetary provisions were not coming regularly, that the government took it up to finance.”

Mark Gbillah (PDP-Benue) demanded justification of why Julius Berger was awarded the contract, has not been part of the initial process just as Bello Kaoje questioned the rationale the BPP awarded road contracts of more than 400 kilometres to a single contractor.

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However, Ahmadu explained that communities where the critical projects were sited actually preferred Julius Berger to handle the jobs.

“There was an evaluation of the three projects, and based on quality, Julius Berger was given the contract.

“Quality is very important, so the specification and quality requirement were considered. In our review, where we thought Julius Berger priced a particular material expensive, we reduced it.

“In fact, at the time this project came, Julius Berger said if they were allowed to do the road, they would ensure maintenance for 30 years and minimum maintenance for a few years thereafter.

“For instance, the National Assembly should take note, you have three blocks here and the ones built by Julius Berger, you can see how they are still clean, and the ones built by others are going bad and in need of maintenance,” the BPP boss said.

He told the lawmakers that Julius Berger was at the bidding stage, contrary to the position of the committee.

Kabir lamented the delay in an inability to complete the Abuja-Kaduna and Lagos-Ibadan projects awarded to the contractor since 2013.

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