The management of Bicourtney Nigeria Limited has said it has been vindicated by the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Raji Fashola, when he acknowledged governments’ failure to honour contracts which impacts negatively on infrastructure development in the country.
Fashola made the remarks while fielding questions during an interview with Channels Television monday.
Bi-Courtney said Fashola’s statement reflected its position, stressing that it is one of the reasons why the private sector is not enthusiastic in partnering the government for massive infrastructural development of the country.
The spokesman for Bi-Courtney, Mr. Akeem Alaaya, said he was pleasantly surprised when he heard the minister saying: “Once you cancel a contract, you are sending a negative investment signal, that you don’t respect contracts.”
He explained that Fashola was responding to questions on whether the government was still open to concessions and public private partnership (PPP) as a way of bridging the gap between the infrastructure deficit in the country, considering the fact that government funding is inadequate to carry out the infrastructure transformation of the country.
Alaaye quoted the minister as saying that the way successive governments jettisoned contracts in the past had done a great disservice to Nigeria.
Bi-Courtney, which is a pioneer infrastructure company in Nigeria, was awarded a build, operate and transfer (BoT) contract to build the Lagos-Ibadan road but the contract was cancelled by the President Goodluck Jonathan-led administration.
The company had insisted that the cancellation was illegal and that the federal government and the Minister of Works, Fashola, needed to respect the law and allow Bi-Courtney complete its contract.
Alaaya said he hoped the minister would take the next logical step and hand back the Lagos – Ibadan road to Bi-Courtney which concession was illegally revoked, adding that the money the government was now expending on the road could have been used on other projects would not be able to attract private sector funds.
Responding to Fashola’s comments, the Legal Advisor to Bi-Courtney, Mr. Tola Oshobi, said the infrastructure development of Nigeria has been slowed down tremendously by the government’s inability to understand that it is only through public private partnerships that the country would get the rapid development it deserves.
He lauded Fashola’s comment and said if this government would partner concessionaires, it would inspire confidence among investors who are needed to develop the country.
Oshobi said while approximately N286 billion was budgeted for roads in this year’s budget, it was estimated that about N1.5 trillion was needed to complete the almost 200 contracted road projects inherited by this government.