9th September, 2011
The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) is currently engaged in an alleged questionable contract award involving the renovation of its multi-storey corporate headquarters at Marina, Lagos.
It was reliably gathered that the management and board of the authority two years ago agreed to carry outÂ Â renovation works on the corporate office of the super-rich agency, part of which was gutted by fire in 2008.
The bid for the contract was still going on when Mallam Abdul Salam Mohammed, the erstwhile Managing Director of the Agency, during whose tenure the contract was initiated, was eased out late last year.
The incumbent helmsman of the authority, Engineer Sulaiman Omar, therefore inherited the proposal and allegedly contracted the renovation of the building at the cost of N5billion.
In addition, three floors on NAL Towers were rented by the agency for two yearsÂ at a total cost of N116million.
The NPA staff at the headquarters were relocated to the rented office space pending the completion of the renovation works on the corporate office.
However, P.M.Maritime learnt that the cost of the contract and the rented office space may have been inflated.
“Unless part of the building would have to be demolished and re-built and the contractors have to also provide the interior decoration, then renovation of a six-story-building of NPA corporate office calibre should not cost so much. At any rate, it depends on who is paying the bill.Â Â You know governmentâ€™s work is always expensive,” a civil engineer based in Lagos averred.
Another property consultant and estate valuer who does not want his name in print frowned at the â€˜exorbitantâ€™ rent fees which he said was the function of who paid the rent.
He explained that depending on the component of the agreement such as service charge, land use charge and VAT, agency fee and legal fee, the amount claimed by the NPA for the rent of three floors on the NAL Towers would be difficult to determine.
He however added that there was ample room for the NPA management to inflate the cost.
But Chief Michael Ajayi, the General Manager, Corporate Affairs of the NPA said there was nothing suspicious about the whole process.
According to him, the contract, which was won by Saveto Nigeria Limited, went through due process and proper diligence.
“It went through the Ministry of Transport, the Federal Executive Council (FEC),Bureau for Public Procurement and Public Tender Board. So there was nothing fishy about the contract as being speculated,”Ajayi asserted.
Watchers of the maritime industry however expressed disgust at what they regarded as the wasteful spending of NPA over the sum expended on the office accommodation.
NPA is reputed to have about 576 houses and other landed properties both in Nigeria and London. These properties were sold in 2006 under hazy circumstances and the sum of N7.8billion was realised with another N192.4million generated through an interest rate of three per cent on the proceeds kept in a commercial bank in Abuja.
NPA had houses and landed properties in London, Kano, Lagos, Warri, Port Harcourt and all the port locations in the country. NPA houses in Lagos which it had sold off were situated Nos 14, 16 and 18 Alexander Avenue, Ikoyi, 10, More House, Ikoyi, and 3,Â Â Milverton Road, Ikoyi .
Others which are located in Apapa are situated atÂ Â Â 17, North Avenue, Apapa, Barrack Road, Child Avenue, Point Road and Malu Road.
Critics stated that NPA could have converted any of these properties into its alternative office where its headquarters staff could be relocated pending the completion of the renovation of the corporate office.