•COVID-19 forced us to stop work, says firm
Nigerians urging the Federal Government to force Julius Berger Construction Plc back to the site on the Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway may have much longer to wait. Reason: The contractor is blaming the ravaging Coronavirus for abandoning work completely on the project site.
A portion of the road, particularly the Agbado-Kollington to the Old Toll Gate section, has become extremely deplorable forcing motorists and commuters to spend hours on end on the road as a result of the state of the road.
Julius Berger’s Media Relations Officer Moses Duku, who spoke with our correspondent in an interview, blamed COVID-19 pandemic for the continued deplorable condition of the Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway.
Duku said the construction giant has not abandoned the project as is being alleged and pleaded with Nigerians living around the project’s corridor to continue to bear with the contractor, as it would ultimately deliver a world-class project.
He blamed the deplorable situation of the road on the ravaging Coronavirus pandemic, which has forced the construction giant to shut down all its operations across the country, adding that Julius Berger in line with the Federal Government’s directive has remained shut and its workers had been asked to go to their various homes pending when the government will consider the country safe for construction work to resume.
He said: “As we speak, we have shut down our offices across the country, including our headquarters and all our engineers and workers have been asked to go home.
This must be what has affected the project and I am afraid this would continue until such a time the Federal Government considers the situation safe enough for us to return to work and that is when we would be able to return to the site.”
Denying allegation that Julius Berger had abandoned the project, Duku said the project has not been abandoned, adding that Julius Berger has no history of abandoning any site as it can handle any projects.
“What happens is that we have moved all our facilities and equipment and machines away from all our sites for safekeeping.
Julius Berger is a large corporation that has a deep interest in a healthy workforce and we have been forced by circumstances to be even more careful and ensure a safe operating environment before we resume work,” Duku added.
A source at the Lagos Office of the Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA) had ruled out the agency from providing any palliative on the road.
The source said the agency cannot do anything on the road as it has been awarded by the Federal Government and the contractor is expected to deliver on the road.
The Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway was awarded in 2018 to Julius Berger, which moved to the site in May 2018. The project was meant to be completed in two and a half years.
It is not certain whether Julius Berger would be able to deliver on schedule in December this year.