By Kelvin Obambon
A group, the Combined Youth Council Of Landlord Communities Of The Odukpani-Itu-Ikot Ekpene Federal Highway Project has countered the call made by the Cross River South Consultative Forum for the revocation and termination of the Odukpani-Itu-Ikot Ekpene road construction contract awarded to SERMATECH Nigeria Limited over claims that the indigenous company lack the technical expertise to execute the project.
Youth council of the landlord communities in a letter dated December 5th, 2023 and addressed to the Honourable Minister of Works, urged the Federal Government to ignore the call by the Cross River South Consultative Forum, while expressing confidence in the capacity of SERMATECH to effectively execute the construction of the Odukpani-Itu-Ikot Ekpene federal road. It added that rather than castigating SERMATECH, the company should be commended for remaining on the site while the other company, CCECC left.
The letter reads;
“Our attention has been drawn to a statement credited to a certain “Cross River South Consultative Forum” with the above caption alleging “lack of competence, manpower, pedigree, technical expertise and equipment” in handling the construction of the Odukpani-Itu-Ikot Ekpene Federal Highway, as some of the reasons they are calling for the revocation/termination of the road project as awarded to SERMATECH NIGERIA LIMITED.
“As law abiding and peace loving citizens and especially in the light of our knowledge of the Authors of the said statement, we have come out to issue this rejoinder (even when it is against our revered tradition of ignoring such uncomplimentary remark) just to avail the gullible public the truth of the matter as we put the records straight.
“We hasten to state here that the statement by the Authors is a disjointed compendium of falsehood, which further manifestly expresses the utter ignorance on their part, of how modern day contracts are awarded. Besides,the tone of presentation in the said piece speaks volumes of the gross act of mischief being plotted by the socio-political group, Cross River South Consultative Forum.
“While we commend the Federal Ministry of Works for awarding Messrs SERMATECH NIG. LTD and the Nigeria National Petroleum Company Ltd, NNPCL, for the initial financing of the project,we would like to remind the Cross River South Consultative Forum that SERMATECH NIG LTD did not just land the road construction from the blues, without passing through thorough scrutiny.
“The public should put on notice that when the contract was first awarded to Messrs Julius Berger, CCECC and SERMATECH, CCECC withdrew its services for whatever reason, leaving Julius Berger and SERMATECH NIG LTD.
Today, Julius Berger has been reported to have pulled out of the project while SERMATECH NIG LTD is the only company on site. Should this attract condemnation or commendation from the Socio-political group,Cross River South Consultative Forum? Until a proper answer is given by the group of this very important question, the attack by the group crumbles like a pack of card.
“Raising the issue of incompetence and other such accusations against the company is more or less an attempt to indict the Federal Ministry of Works through which SERMATECH NIG LTD got the job. How unfortunate!
“It is important to point out here that our interest as great citizens is to see to the seamless construction of the road by the company, having seen several attempts to disrupt the progress of work or distract the company from making progress in their work delivery.
“While not holding brief for SERMATECH NIG LTD, we would lay bare our knowledge of the project, of the company and then attempt an overview as to why the gullible public should not believe any deliberate falsehood which may pitch them against the construction company or the Federal Government.
“SERMATECH NIG LTD, we are fully informed; with verifiable proofs, has a proven track record of excellent job delivery. In fact, a section of the Calabar-Ikom Federal Highway for instance, which was constructed by the company is still in use and a testament to the company’s competence and excellent delivery.
“We are also aware that the company decided to settle only for excellence in the construction process and has maintained this reputation and standard in the Odukpani-Itu-Ikot Ekpene road sites and bridges so far constructed by her. (vide pictures of such excellent job delivery on the highway attached).
“We are also aware that the Cross River State Chapter of the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE) have commended SERMATECH NIG LTD for the excellent job she is doing in the project site, just as Your Excellency during your recent inspection of the project, also gave the company a path on the back for a great job.
“At this point, we make bold to say that there was never a time that the section of the Odukpani-Itu-Ikot Ekpene Federal Highway awarded to SERMATECH NIG LTD has witnessed traffic collapse. Rather the company has always voluntarily intervened in other sections outside of its jurisdiction in a bid to ensure the collapse from those sections does not result in severe damage that would thereby raise the cost implications for her own repair works. In fact, until Faith Plant was brought in to the section handled by Julius Berger, SERMATECH NIG LTD, has always intervened in the aforesaid section on Julius Berger’s behalf.
“They also alleged that they have had cause to condemn SERMATECH NIG LTD’s “shoddy handling” of their section in concert with other Stakeholders which they went ahead to mention. But we ask these Purveyors of lies and deliberate falsehood against SERMATECH NIG LTD why they failed to invite to such meetings, the Federal Ministry of Works and the NNPC Ltd. who are also critical Stakeholders, at least to have a first hand knowledge of the job description and terms of the contract before they resorted to exposing their gross ignorance of the entire issue.
“We are youths in the Landlord Communities. But there is never at time we or our Elders were told about any such meeting(s) nor invited by the Socio-political group to attend any. It beggars believe that some persons even as adults, are still co-habiting with lies and sentiments that they would naturally do away with at a certain age.
“However, the fact remains that SERMATECH NIG LTD has two major swamps of Okpokong and Calabar River. The Okpokong Swamp has 5kilometre length and has been fully constructed with pavement works done up to binder course level awaiting the final wearing course layer.
“The work has survived the vagaries and other such situations for more than two years, and yet has no issue whatsoever. Motorists are enjoying a smooth ride daily on that portion of the road.
“Also, active work is ongoing at the Calabar River Swamp with adequate Geo-technical Treatment, sub-soil drainage to lower the ground water table, excavation to remove unsuitable materials, hardcore filling and sand filling to stabilise the road section. Alleging that the job is difficult for the construction company to handle is certainly revealing of the utter ignorance and mischievous inclinations of the characters involved in those tissues of lies.
“Construction job is not an aile party where people sit in drinking pubs to gossip. It is purely technical and we bet the Cross River South Consultative Forum to come up with any technical report or outcome of any inquest they have conducted on the project, to support their claims.
“We find it equally appalling that the Authors of the said jaundiced report did not find out the number of bridges on the SERMATECH NIG LTD section, before going public in their accusations of the company finding it difficult to handle five bridges.
“To also straighten the records on the foregoing, the company had four instead of five bridges on its section: two of the bridges have been fully constructed and completed; Atan Okoyong and Okpokong bridges respectively. A third bridge, the Ayadeghe bridge is at capping beam level, and all the precast beams are completed for fixing just as the two abutment walls are set. The four old bridges have also been given a facelift having been rehabilitated.
“Hon. Minister Sir, after a careful and dispassionate analysis of the statement by the so called Cross River South Consultative Forum, we have come to the realisation that the main objective of the socio-political group in delving into the construction issue is not as genuine as they may want people believe.
“Their aim is to smear the SERMATECH NIG LTD; move further to strip her of the construction work and then come out later on with their mischievous and self serving agenda cloned in unhealthy rivalry.
“We recall that, SERMATECH NIG LTD has suffered several cases of protest, undue rivalry and backlash for refusing to yield to similar distractions and the disruption of its operations in the past.
“Now, again they are on another inglorious voyage of sponsoring deliberate falsehood. Some of them initially brought up the issue of Community Liaison Officer, CLO, as a bait agitations to drag the company’s name and reputation in the mud. Incidentally, SERMATECH NIG LTD was smarter and they failed woefully.
“Hon. Minister, we want to place on record that as concerned Stakeholders in the road project, we will stop at nothing to ensure that SERMATECH NIG LTD enjoys the peace, and stability required to do a perfect and seamless construction job, so that posterity will always remember and speak for us when the Clarion call requiring those who meant well for the road project to see the light of day would be made.
“On this note, we urge that you utterly set aside, jettison and or ignore the so-called Cross River South Consultative Forum and her unnecessary request for the revocation and termination of the contract for the construction of the Odukpani-Itu-Ikot Ekpene Federal Highway as currently handled by SERMATECH NIG.LTD.
“Thank you and please accept the assurances of our very warmth regards.”