Reps query NRC, summon BPP over $8.3bn rail contract

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The House of Representatives has faulted the bidding process for the $8.3bn Lagos-Kano railway contract.

It said that the Nigerian Railway Corporation and the Bureau of Public Procurement must explain why it turned out that only Chinese firms bid and won the contract.
An ad hoc committee of the House investigating the railway rehabilitation and modernisation contracts awarded by the Federal Government between 2010 and 2014, noted that the China Railway Construction Corporation bid for the contract.

Its subsidiary, the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation, also turned out to be the second bidder.

The committee, which is chaired by a lawmaker from Edo State, Mr. Johnson Agbonayinma, queried the decision of the NRC to award the contract to the firms.

It also summoned the BPP to explain how it approved the contract for a parent firm and its subsidiary.

At its sitting in Abuja on Friday, the committee held the view that by their actions, the NRC and the BPP had shut out other competent companies from bidding for the contract.

Agbonayinma asked if it was possible in China for a parent company and its subsidiary to both bid and win for same major public contracts.

The representatives of the firms had claimed that they were registered in Nigeria with the Corporate Affairs Commission.

But, the committee observed that on the form containing the list of the board of directors, none of the directors of CRCC appended their signatures.

The committee said allegations that “substandard” equipment was imported for the rail projects compelled the House to conduct the investigation.

“The ongoing fight against corruption cannot be fought alone by the President Muhammadu Buhari administration, hence we call for the support of all Nigerians,” Agbonayinma said.

However, Mr. Leo Kin, who spoke at the hearing on behalf of CRCC and CCECC, disagreed with the position of the committee that only the two Chinese firms had bid for the project.

Kin named Julius Berger Plc and “other companies” as having bid for the contract.

He defended his firms, saying that they won the contract because of the technical competence they exhibited during the bidding process.

The Acting Managing Director of the NRC, Mr. Fidet Okhiria, tried to exonerate the corporation.

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