By G9ija

Cleen Foundation, a Non-Governmental Organisation, has commended contractors of the three forfeited assets infrastructure projects for upholding best construction practices.Mrs Ruth Olofin, Acting Executive Director of the foundation, gave the commendation during a news conference on “Monitoring the Utilisation of Forfeited Assets in Nigeria”, on Saturday in Abuja.The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the forfeited assets of N126 billion is being spent equally on three projects that cut across three zones of the country.She said that Cleen monitoring consortium during visitations to the project site in June, observed that work was progressing at each location and at good standards.She said that on Feb. 10, the foundation was appointed by the Federal Government, the U.S. Government and the Bailiwick of Jersey, on trilateral agreement signed among the countries as the civil society organisation to provide effective monitoring.“Monitoring for the implementation of the tripartite agreement on the sharing, transfer, disposition, repatriation and management of certain forfeited assets.“Cleen foundation and her consortium partners, FTI Consulting headquartered in Washington DC, U.S., who are renowned specialists in asset tracing and recovery, risk assessments, forensic and others are required to monitor the utilisation of the forfeited assets.“Cleen foundation and her consortium partners upon an agreed programme of works with the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority and Responsible Contractors spanning between June 2021 and March 2022, embarked on a series of on-the-spot checks and unscheduled visits to these locations,” she explained.The acting executive director said that during monitoring, workers were on site, construction activities were ongoing and each of the project offices had staff that are operational.“The Monitoring team is not timely and without incident by the EPC Contractors who are suitably prepared and offered appropriate comprehensive updates on the nature and progress of works at each of the site locations.“The quality of work observed appears to be consistent with acceptable standards and there are simultaneous ongoing construction activities on both sides of the dual carriageway of the Abuja-Kano road, sections of the Second River Niger Bridge, and the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway.“Examples of infrastructure built when we conducted our monitoring activities include but are not limited to the following; median barrier, road drainage, main carriageway and remedial work road markings and grass planting,” she said.Olofin noted that the means and methods used by the EPC Contractors, especially at the Second River Niger Bridge, appeared to be innovative.She further said that for the Second River Niger Bridge, Julius Berger Construction company demonstrated good innovation using geotextile, given that the secondary road subgrades were weak.According to her, the construction method and value engineering has several benefits that include – accelerating the construction time, increasing the road lifespan and durability as well as reducing need for frequent maintenance.“In addition, the cold recycling method which promotes effective cost management is another valued engineering method by Julius Berger Nigeria at the Abuja-Kano Road,” the NGO boss said.She also said that 450 unscheduled visits have been undertaken to the three project locations on a two quarterly site visits since commencement of the project in June.The acting director noted that the visits were done while leveraging on the increased level of cooperation between Cleen consortium, the EPC contractors, Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority, and the Federal Ministry of Justice.She said that the monitoring group were embarking on its third quarterly visits to the project site between Nov. 15 and Nov. 27.She further said that 29 citizens domiciled in localities close to the project locations have been trained on the methodology to undertake the monitoring functions including, the CLEEN project team.“The monitors have been deployed to undertake unscheduled visits to the construction locations.“And the project locations being monitored cut across eight states namely Oyo, Ogun, Lagos, Delta, Anambra, FCT (Abuja), Kaduna and Kano,” she said.Olofin said that the monitoring team is working to ensure that the forfeited funds, worth US$ 311.8 million would be for the benefit of the people for its assigned infrastructural development.She noted that the scope of work are inclusive and not limited to compliance with regards to anti-corruption, anti-human trafficking, procurement practices, forensic auditing, engineering and infrastructure.She urged the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority to live up to its responsibility by supervising the utilisation of funds by Julius Berger Nigeria PLC and Reynolds Construction Company who were contracted by the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing.NAN reports that the funds shared were N42 billion for the Lagos-Ibadan expressway; N42 billion for the second Niger bridge and N42 billion for the Abuja-Kano Road.The rehabilitation of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway is awarded to two EPC Contractors; the Reynolds Construction Company Ltd. (RCC) and Julius Berger Ltd.While RCC is responsible for section two of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway (Sagamu-Ibadan), Julius Berger Nigeria Ltd. is responsible for Section one of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway (Lagos-Sagamu axis), Second River Niger Bridge and the Abuja-Kano Road.