NPA seeks ter­mi­na­tion of N26bn Cal­abar chan­nel con­tract

Daily Trust - - NEWS - By Ab­dul-Rah­man Abubakar & Is­mail Mu­dashir

The Nige­rian Ports Author­ity (NPA) said it has un­cov­ered a N26 bil­lion con­tract scam in­volv­ing dredg­ing of the Cal­abar Chan­nel, in a Joint Ven­ture with Messrs Niger Global En­gi­neer­ing Com­pany.

Doc­u­ments sighted by Daily Trust showed that af­ter an ini­tial pay­ment of $12.5 mil­lion to Niger Global En­gi­neer­ing by the NPA in 2014, the com­pany failed to carry out any work on the chan­nel.

A sta­tus doc­u­ment on the con­tract pre­sented by Man­ag­ing Direc­tor of NPA, Hadiza Bala Us­man showed that af­ter fail­ing to dredge the chan­nel, Global En­gi­neer­ing is now seek­ing pay­ment of about $22 mil­lion as bal­ance for the con­tract. The to­tal con­tract sum was about N26 bil­lion.

The Author­ity said the Joint Ven­ture agree­ment with Global En­gi­neer­ing on the dredg­ing of the Cal­abar Chan­nel was wrong say­ing “The con­sul­tant clearly ad­vised against the es­tab­lish­ment of a chan­nel man­age­ment com­pany for the Cal­abar Nav­i­ga­tion Chan­nel at that time. This was be­cause the vol­ume of ship traf­fic was low and did not jus­tify a joint ven­ture agree­ment, which is nor­mally funded from ship dues.”

How­ever, the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment at that time ig­nored due pro­cesses and con­sul­tants ad­vice to form the Cal­abar Chan­nel Man­age­ment Lim­ited (CCM), through a joint ven­ture agree­ment between NPA and Global En­gi­neer­ing, the doc­u­ment said.

The doc­u­ments said “All ef­forts to find de­tails of dredg­ing ac­tiv­i­ties for the pe­riod, which CCM claimed to have dredged the Cal­abar Ac­cess Chan­nel (Novem­ber 2014 to Jan­uary 2015) proved abortive.

“The Har­bour Master and Port Hy­dro­g­ra­pher dur­ing the pe­riod stated they were un­aware of any dredg­ing un­der­taken by CCM dur­ing the pe­riod. Fur­ther, there was no com­mu­ni­ca­tion between the com­pany and the port man­age­ment on their pur­ported dredg­ing ac­tiv­i­ties dur­ing the pe­riod.””

NPA said find­ings had re­vealed that Niger Global En­gi­neer­ing Com­pany, its part­ner in the CCM did not dredge the Cal­abar Chan­nel. He said “Af­ter care­ful ex­am­i­na­tion of the Authrity’s over­all dredg­ing data/ves­sel move­ment in conjunction with in­puts from the Author­ity’s rel­e­vant per­son­nel, it is ques­tion­able if any dredg­ing ac­tu­ally took place.”

The Author­ity wanted to dredge the ac­cess to Cal­abar Port from 8.0m to 10.0m depth to ac­com­mo­date larger ves­sels. The doc­u­ments re­vealed that NPA had ad­ver­tised the dredg­ing for bid­ding, but the process was aban­doned, while the con­tract worth over N26 bil­lion was awarded to Niger Global En­gi­neer­ing Com­pany through the joint ven­ture agree­ment.

In a memo to for­mer pres­i­dent Good­luck Jonathan dated May 18, 2015, Direc­tor Gen­eral of the Bu­reau of Pub­lic Pro­cure­ment faulted the process of award­ing the con­tract to Global En­gi­neer­ing.

The BPP said Jonathan was ill ad­vised not to al­low due process pre­vail on the project “In line with ex­tant reg­u­la­tions and pro­ce­dure on pub­lic pro­cure­ment, a project of over N26 bil­lion should be pro­cured through com­pet­i­tive bid­ding process to en­sure value for money among oth­ers as per your ear­lier ap­proval.

“It will amount to gross vi­o­la­tion of due process to award a con­tract of this mag­ni­tude to a com­pany that failed or re­fused to bid for the project but only sur­rep­ti­tiously com­piled and sub­sti­tuted fig­ures from a pre­vi­ous sub­mis­sion made by Lagos Chan­nel man­age­ment in 2004, for the Lagos Chan­nel Project,” said the Bu­reau.

The BPP said the Cal­abar Chan­nel Man­age­ment Lim­ited was hur­riedly in­cor­po­rated af­ter its ini­tial ob­jec­tion “for the pur­pose of ob­tain­ing this con­tract with­out com­pe­ti­tion.”

NPA seeks can­cel­la­tion of agree­ment

The Man­ag­ing Direc­tor of NPA, Hadiza Bala Us­man is now seek­ing ter­mi­na­tion of the joint ven­ture between the Author­ity and Niger Global En­gi­neer­ing and Tech­ni­cal Com­pany on the Cal­abar Chan­nel Man­age­ment Lim­ited. She said the move is to re­solve the lin­ger­ing issue. In a pre­sen­ta­tion to the board of NPA, Us­man said “The pay­ment al­ready made and the parts out­stand­ing be con­sid­ered as debt, which would be sub­jected to through foren­sic au­dit by the firm hired to ver­ify the claim.

“That the Author­ity should es­tab­lish the best mode of trans­par­ently man­ag­ing the Cal­abar Chan­nel in line with ex­tant pro­ce­dures on pub­lic pro­cure­ments fol­low­ing which, Messrs Niger Global En­gi­neer­ing and Tech­ni­cal Com­pany Lim­ited along­side all other qual­i­fied com­pa­nies can then openly com­pete for the con­tract.”

Ef­forts to get the re­ac­tion of Se­na­tor Hope Uzod­inma (PDP, Imo), who is owner of Niger Global En­gi­neer­ing and Tech­ni­cal Com­pany yielded no re­sult as he nei­ther picked his calls nor re­ply the text mes­sages sent to him.

Twice our correspondent called his glo line, it rang but he did not an­swer the calls. The first call was put to his mo­bile phone at 2.22pm and the sec­ond by 5.18pm. He did not also re­ply to the three text mes­sages sent to the same line.

Our correspondent in the text mes­sages asked Uzod­inma the level of works at the Cal­abar chan­nel, why has NPA re­fused to pay the bal­ance of N25bn, and what he will do now that NPA has called off the joint ven­ture?

NPA had in 2014 handed the $12.5m con­tract of the dredg­ing of Cal­abar chan­nel to Uzod­inma’s com­pany, Niger Global En­gi­neer­ing and Tech­ni­cal Com­pany Ltd.

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