High-grade technology makes it possible for discerning home builders to embark on housing projects, rather than on mere construction. CMB-Vertikal, a wholly Nigerian company, is now in possession of such expertise, reports Bennett Oghifo
CMB-Vertikal, a Nigerian company, with Polish partners, is the next big thing in Nigeria’s construction industry that will set the stage for large-scale manufacturing of homes to fit all segments of the society. Prices will not be a problem with economics of scale. Besides, the technology to be employed is top-rate, the Polish partners have promised, explaining that they had done it elsewhere, most recently in Sweden.
According to the Chief Executive Officer of Vertikal Sp. z o.o. Poland, Blazej Binienda, “We have been invited for the design and construction of facilities in Sweden. Above all, we are very pleased with the cooperation with CMB Nigeria.”
Binienda, who addressed a media briefing, hosted at the Ikoyi, Lagos office of CMB through Skype, recently, said they were very keen to create a strong, modern company, providing high quality performance, and acting in accordance with Nigerian, European and international quality standards.
He said due to the large distances between projects in different parts of the country, they would rely on the use of the latest communication technologies. “We would like to introduce an effective system of organisation in construction, quality management, meet stringent safety conditions and ensure environmental friendliness. Our goal is to create buildings that will be distinguished by attention to quality and durability, so as to get the best product on the market in its price range.
“We believe that the Board of CMB has made a great choice in joining forces with a company from Poland. I have already mentioned that we have the highest skills and quality in Europe, but due to the fact that we are a dynamically developing country, our costs are much lower than in Western Europe, so we can offer very competitive services.”
He said, “We’re looking for long term cooperation on the Nigerian market and plan to expand to all of West Africa in the perspective of many years of development. We know that we can only obtain the highest quality through our employees. We want to carry out technical training, especially in specialized construction techniques for local staff, with whom we aim to share our experience.”
He thanked the Management Board of CMB for their openness to cooperation and development, adding that he would like to see them work together not only in West Africa, but also start working with the Nigerian company in Europe.
Binienda said his company has been present on the construction market since 1982. “We have been active in the design and construction of buildings and infrastructure both in Poland as well as abroad.”
He said over the last thirty years, Poland have seen tremendous changes, both in its political make up and in its development. “Due to the fact that we are a dynamically developing country, in the context of the EU, we are aggressively expanding our infrastructure.
“For example, in the last 10 years we have constructed approx. 3,000 km of new motorways and expressways, and tens of thousands of kilometers of roads have been upgraded.
“We have built modern stadiums – especially for the European football championships in 2012. We have also built more than a million apartments and houses.”
Polish citizens, he said were also active in building abroad, adding that they have built quiet a number of roads and industrial facilities in Arab countries. “Poles work on construction sites all over Western Europe, particularly in the UK and Germany where we have attained the opinion of being the best builders, thanks to the quality of our work, our diligence, efficiency and ability to execute on schedule.”
Blazej Binienda said Vertikal has been involved in EU investments in Poland, as well as commercial ventures with great success. “We provide for both public procurement in terms of roads and infrastructure, and private commercial and industrial construction.
“Both the technical skills of our company and quality of our work have been well appreciated abroad.”
He said, “We visited Nigeria and we know that CMB is a very strong and dynamic developer implementing a number of large investments in many places of the country. We also noticed that the company CMB is very focused on the development and implementation of the best facilities for its customers.
“We know that Nigeria is a big country, the largest economy in Africa, with huge development potential, with great needs in the construction of housing and infrastructure. It also has a lot of people involved, who want to change and develop their country.”
There is need for c collaboration between local and foreign companies for better performance and for capacity building, said Managing Director of CMB Building Maintenance & Investment Co., Mr. Kelechukwu Mbagwu, saying the days of one-stop-shop housing development companies were over.
On the ranking of CMB-Vertikal in the nation’s construction industry, he said, Pure development will always have placed us within the first three top companies but with increased capacity in construction, our aim is to be number one. Give us a few years of this collaboration, a few years of proving to the Europeans that there is a lot of business, a lot of potential and there is a lot of good to come out of the partnership in Nigeria; I think we will be number one with the kind of resources that the Polish company has assured us that they have and proven to have is deployed in the country. I don’t think there is an organisation here that can currently match us. What we want to make sure we do is to encourage them to concentrate resources here and then you’ll see an explosion like never before.
“In the next five year, I see us much bigger than Julius Berger. I see us as the biggest in the country and I see us starting to expanding our business and, our tentacles going into other African countries.”
He said they will engage in road cconstruction because “That’s one of the key things we want to do. Virtikal is truly very strong in that area in Poland.”
He said CMB used to build and sell off-plan but that it would not do so again. The one-stop-shop has served its purpose. “It has been wonderful for us; it has brought us this far; we have delivered a lot but when we view the global problem and especially what has been highlighted in the past two years of economic stagnation, we realised that these baby steps are not going to get us anywhere. If we want to be able to change anything then we need the kind of capacity that, right now, we just don’t have and that is why we are importing it; you need to develop it yourself or bring it from outside. We realised that developing it ourselves is going to be very tedious and the model that gave birth to CMB growth is getting to be outdated by a proliferation of ‘cowboys’ who have come into the industry. But, we have looked at everything and have seen that it is not quite achieving its purpose.”
He explained that if there was economic downturn like was being experienced in the last two years it could actually go crashing.
“We are talking to what the minister wants, which is infrastructural development which will in fact create the enabling environment that we are talking about. An then mass production at speed that is not yet possible wit us.”
The new company, he said would have various departments, stating that CMB-Vertikal would takeover construction operations from CMB. “CMB-Vertikal will be like our contractors and, of course, they will still get their own jobs. An Oyster Management Company is coming to be; it’s an independent company with it’s managing director, to handle the entire maintenance portfolio. “So, we won’t be playing that role either; the security arm is Steel Guardian. The parent company, CMB will be able to concentrate on getting the jobs and ensure continued progression.”
On the issue of maintenance fees that is always a problem in most estates, Mbagwu said they manage it with a lot of difficulty.
“One of the things that we have found, unfortunately we didn’t know this before we went in, is that there is usually a determined group of people who do not want to pay for anything. If you want to charge N10 as service charge, they’ll still complain not only about the charge but also about your services. This why we are creating a separate entity and management to handle it.”
Mbagwu said he always tries to be the best at what he does. “If we run CMB as a construction company, can we be the best management company in the business- no, because our concentration will never be total but we have capable hands, dedicated professionals, who will take the ball and run, and I believe that those issue could be handled.”
He said he naively believed at the beginning that if people see something good, then they will tap in; the majority will tap in but there’s a determined minority that won’t and will do everything to practically frustrate you. I do not subscribe to conflict between you and your client because it doesn’t help business, but I do subscribe to professionalism and highly focused individuals trying to do what they know best; that’s why we are doing this collaboration.