Bodo-Bonny road: FG orders Julius Berger to return to site within 14 days

The Federal government has ordered the contractor handling the Bodo- Bonny road construction to return to the site within 14 days or risk appropriate sanctions.

A statement issued in Abuja on Thursday by the Director of Information and Public Relations, Federal Ministry of Works, Mr. Ben Bem Goong, quoted the Minister of Works, Engr David  Umahi giving the marching order at a meeting with the handlers of the road project, Julius Berger  PLC, as well as representatives of Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas NLNG and Royal Fathers from Bonny Kingdom and other members of host communities in Abuja.

According to the minister, the Bonny-Bodo road contract which was initially awarded at the cost of N120 billion in 2015, was later varied at N199 billion with a completion dateline of December 2023, which has since elapsed.

The minister decried the unilateral stoppage of work by Julius Berger, describing the action as unacceptable.

While rejecting in total, Julius Berger’s request for variation based on fluctuations in exchange rate and increasing cost of material, the minister said the government does not award contracts based on exchange rate.

He pointed out that no contractor will come to the government for a downward review of the cost of any project if the exchange rate becomes one naira to one dollar, adding that the government cannot anchor contract costs based on exchange rate variations.

Umahi was particularly unhappy that the timelines for the completion of the project were not adhered to, maintaining that if the project were completed in December 2023,   as contained in the contract agreement, issues of high exchange rate and increasing cost of materials would not have arisen.

He, however, promised that he would make a presentation to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu for a marginal augmentation to ensure that the project is completed on or before December 2024.

Earlier in his presentation, the Managing Director of Julius Berger Plc, Engr Lars Richter, had called for the variation of the contract which he said has become necessary given the declining value of the Naira and the rising cost of construction materials in the country.

The MD drew the attention of the minister to the time lag when the contract was awarded in 2015 when the exchange rate was N305 to a dollar, adding that the cost of building materials has since risen by over 1000%.

Contributing, the Deputy Managing Director of NLNG, Olakunle Osobu, pointed out that the contract which is being funded through the Tax Credit Scheme is intended to complement the Renewed Hope Agenda of the current administration.

He called on all parties to the project to remain patriotic as well as make the necessary sacrifices for the actualisation of the project.