BY EDMOND ODOK, ABUJA – The Managing Director of Nigeria’s foremost engineering construction firm, Julius Berger Nigeria Plc, Engineer Dr Lars Richter, says the company’s unwavering commitment to a timely completion of the second Niger Bridge truly reflects its age-long competence and record breaking achievements in the nation’s construction industry.
In a video clip capturing the intensive and extensive engineering works going on at the Second Niger Bridge in Asaba/Onitsha within the short time Berger got the main contract for the project, Dr Richter said; “…the record setting progress Julius Berger has made at the site, reflects the company’s continued commitment to a timely completion of the project”.
He also said the ‘Cold recycling methodology’, which the company introduced into the country at the on-going Abuja-Kaduna-Zaria-Kano Road works, is a pointer “to an efficient future of road construction, rehabilitation and maintenance in Nigeria”.
According to him, the methodology innovatively provides for the milled-off pavement to be recycled and improved for re-use in paving the base layer of the road.
On the Lagos-Shagamu Expressway, which has witnessed delays and even work stoppage in the past due to funding challenges, Richter said since the resumption of work, a pace of progress has been steady with the deadline for completion in view.
“Considering that the Expressway is now financed via the Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund, we presume that we will be able to achieve an uninterrupted pace of work with the new funding structure”, Dr Richter said.
He also added that; “Julius Berger remains fully committed to completion of this complex project, for the benefit of all”.
Dr Richter, who also spoke on the ongoing Bodo Bonny Road, said that despite the project’s strategic socio–economic importance as well as its acknowledged challenges, “…as the first major contractor to enter Bonny Island over 20 years ago, Julius Berger has the experience and the technical know-how to deliver the needed solution, and we are doing so”.
Giving an insight on Berger’s success at both the completed Azura Power Plant as well as ongoing works at the Okpai Power Plant, Dr Richter said; “Power is a key sector for the future of Nigeria and for Julius Berger, and we now have the proven experience and knowhow to continue growing our portfolio in the power sector”
Dr Richter, who spoke at the company’s Investor Relations Forum, in Radisson Blu Hotel Victoria Island Lagos, said for quality and standards in year 2018, Berger also achieved the recertification of its Quality Management System, to meet the updated standards of ISO 9001.
He said the development was a proof “that despite much changes, and in the face of external pressures, Julius Berger’s commitment to quality and process has not wavered”.
The event, which has become a traditional pre-AGM presentation by the executive management of Julius Berger Nigeria Plc, gave the company’s shareholders and stakeholders the opportunity to review raw data on the company’s business activities and fortunes over the 2018 financial year as well as on its economic trajectory.
The Managing Director’s presentation focused on operational perspectives and outlook, including review of the business year 2018; status of operations; and outlook for 2019 and beyond.
Dr Richter informed the investor forum that 2018 was a very successful and pivotal year for Julius Berger, a business year filled with many positive developments and achievements.
According to him, the year under review saw Julius Berger successfully overcoming many tough challenges and also making remarkable progress across all aspects of its business, moving to greater profitability and success.
Maintaining that adherence to due process and contractual agreements largely contributed to “Julius Berger’s enduring, thriving and enviable corporate culture which maintains the brands unique positioning”, adding that during the 2018 business year, the company effectively optimized its operational structure to ensure the best utilization of resources for projects’ needs.
Furthermore, he said a seamless succession of the Executive Management was implemented and its structure expanded to include a Directorate of Corporate Development, noting that the decision strategically ensured stronger focus on growth potentials, while providing more robust support for the identification and exploration of diversification opportunities and efforts.
Dr Richter expressed happiness that recent events have seen Berger crawling back from redundancy to renaissance; from the brink of sale of its equipment to investment in new machinery and technology; from firing to hiring again, with the target, to deliver on its new and increasing projects schedules.
In terms of mega-projects, the Managing Director cited the Dangote’s Petroleum Refinery Project as one that is set to be the largest refinery in Africa, adding; “Julius Berger has been successful in delivering the needed basic infrastructure within our scope of work, and due to good performance, have achieved additional scope. We will continue to strive for excellence to drive forward opportunities for our company”.
In addition, Dr Richter stated that on-going FAFMA Office Tower in Lagos is developing at an impressive speed with a promise tthat it would be a remarkable high-standard high-rise building and an iconic addition to Lagos’s skyline.
He said another notable addition to Julius Berger’s portfolio of building projects is the National Institute of Legislative and Democratic Studies, which comprises several buildings, adding that construction of the campus has continued to progress and slated for partial commissioning later this month.
The Berger boss said when completed, the Institute would effectively position itself to fulfil the role as a world-class administrative and educational institution for the strengthening of democratic processes and structures in Nigeria.
On the Company’s fortunes and outlook, Dr Richter said existing and emerging challenges notwithstanding, Julius Berger would remain in a strong position to succeed given its competence and efficiency in job delivery.
“The company has a firm competitive edge, driven by our commitment to quality, reliability, innovation and integrity – which reflects Julius Berger’s core values.Bolstering our position of strength is our robust order backlog and our diversified portfolio, which includes projects of National Priority….Our strength is also reinforced by our commitment to innovation and the pioneering of state-of-the-art construction methods and technologies… and further supported by our leading quality management systems, unmatched HSE performance, and highly skilled and dedicated workforce… And last but not least, by the fact that our track record has earned us the trust of our clients, by way of our tried and true ability to reliably deliver, no matter the challenge”.
On its future, the MD said, “…Looking forward, Julius Berger remains intent on continuing to strengthen our core construction business, in part by building on optimizations while maintaining our commitment to a standard of excellence second to none.”
Richter assured that Berger “will continue to focus on strengthening the group, by further developing our subsidiaries… all of which have a great potential for increases in revenue and market share in their respective sectors”, even as he cited the growth indices by Julius Berger Services Nigeria.
Also pledging to relentlessly protect and promote its brand values, to ensure Julius Berger remains uniquely positioned to offer clients holistic solutions at an unmatched level of service, the Managing Director said; “For our company and the nation, the future is dynamic, requiring a nimble approach and quick problem solving – a main objective of the change agenda which we have successfully realized and will continue to build from in the years ahead.”
Also addressing the Forum, Financial Director of Julius Berger Group, Mr Martin Brack said its revenue profile increased by 37 per cent; Profit before Tax went up by by 173 per cent; total comprehensive income by 47 per cent; earnings per share by 47 per cent; and the shareholders equity rose to 35 BNGN during the year.
“Management is extremely proud of the fact that all profit figures of the Group have substantially increased in 2018….Looking forward, we will place great focus on ensuring profitable project execution, and on further strengthening our financial position”, Brack said