ON ALEX OTTI, N30 BILLION BERGER JOB AND THE NEW ABIA.
It has come to me as no surprise at all reading the counter narratives of the opposition kill joy crying blue murder over the Portharcourt Road job Aba job given to Julius Berger construction company at a whopping N30 Billion Naira.
In fairness to rational thinking, I also belong to the the school of thought that reasons that pulling Abia state out of the ruins of the PDP 24 years of leadership plague required prudential application of scarce resources to as many sectors of Abia economy seeking for urgent intervention to spark economic rejuvenation.
To this school of thought, N30 Billion would be a monstrous sum to devote to one project at a time when the state has just been rescued from the ruinous hold of buccaneers who held us down for two decades.
Clearly, Julius Berger bills even in a rich economy is strangulating and uneconmical when considering that their so called cutting edge technology in road building does not come even with as small as ten years guarantees for clients.
After all many a Julius Berger project are failing around the country due to lack of innovation technology on their road designs that pay more attention to deep the pockets instead of to deep engineering.
At the risk of sounding critical at the choice of Julius Berger and its organizational structure, the real Julius Berger engineers from Germany packed their loads and relocated back to their country after the exit of then President Ibrahim Babangida from office since 1993. The real Julius Berger engineers were the ones who built Abuja from the scratch to what it eventually became as center of excellence during the IBB years.
IBB could not afford their fat paycheck and had to start swapping dollars with oil shipments to them in Germany. That was also how oil bunkering of shipping our oil resources outside the OPEC quota capture began and never stopped till today.
The exit of the real Julius Berger out of the Nigeria business landscape was smartly replaced with the political Julius Berger headed by the late Mobalaji Johnson, also their founding chairman and his Fulani partners.
The advent of the political Julius Berger started the spate of roads construction failures without a ten years lifeline even for big sums.
The Germans we all know are notable for being the best in road construction all over the world. Their autobahn technology was said to be an invention in the pre and post world war era where battle tanks could not even deteriorate their roads. The Germans do not compromise the quality of their road construction which is why the real Julius Berger packed their loads and left Nigeria.
That is also why another German construction company, Strabag also left the country back in 1997 to avoid being enmeshed in the mess of the then flagging Nigeria economy that showed signs of recession. The truth is that you need an extremely buoyant economy to engage a serious company to build long lasting roads.
I do not see Abia economy as of today being able to scale up in this regard as to be able to attract big companies to do its jobs of reconstructions left behind by past regimes. Therefore my take is that if Dr. Alex Otti’s government does not open its eyes at the real fundamental issues of road building economy, these political Julius Berger contractors may fail to leave up to expectations.
They might give us a road that may not last even five years and our N30 Billion will go down the drain. We must have structures on ground to ensure that our hard earned money gives us real value and not just the status symbol of having Julius Berger adorn Abia soil with their status machines.
The New Abia must find use for its own professionals who are not in short supply to supervise the contractors to ensure we’re not at the end of the day forced to clutch the short end of the stick.
I will not end this piece without praising the efforts of Governor Alex Otti for his visionary steps so far in putting Abia State in the headlines of positive soundbites values through this gargantuan contract award. The sound of the contract is high falluten, gravitational, attractive, investors friendly and is full of hope.
This is a clear departure from the erstwhile Abia News days about giving pregnant women N500 naira and baby pampers of the Victor Ikpeazu era.
A new Abia is indeed possible.
Dr. Engr Odo Ijere.
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