Senate to probe ‘variation of N10b PTDF headquarters’

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The drama between the Executive Secretary of the Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF),  Muttaqua Rabe Darma and Julius Berger Nigeria Plc over an alleged variation in a N10.38billion contract for the fund’s headquarters buildings  in Abuja almost boiled over at the weekend.

Julius Berger Nigeria Plc insisted that there was a variation in the contract sum, but the PTDF boss claimed that it was not a variation.

The N10billion contract was awarded in November 2009.

The drama began when the Senate Committee on Petroleum (Upstream) visited the agency on an oversight function.

Darma told the committee that contracts awarded by the agency are done in such a way that contractors do not have room to ask for variations.

But a representative of the German construction firm, Martin Vom Lom, told the committee that the contract sum was varied to take care of an unforeseen contingency.

Von Lom, while responding to a question by Chairman of the Committee, Senator Emmanuel Paulker, noted that the variation was to enable the company relocate a major sewage pipe that runs through the plot which was not taken into account at the time of bidding for the contract.

He did not specify the additional amount that resulted from the variation.

Darma promptly interjected, insisting that it was not a variation at such.

He tried unsuccessfully to convince the lawmakers, who tactically refused to pay attention but rather called on the site managers to take them on an inspection of the building, which was said to be 84 per cent complete.

Paulker told reporters that the committee would investigate the alleged variation to determine whether the additional fund was taken from the contingency fund included in the contract sum.

He said: “The PTDF headquarters’ building is integrated into the 2011 budget, which they have just submitted to us.

“It is a N10billion contract. We are not against variation but we based the question on what the PTDF Executive Secretary did mention to us earlier that their contracts are always all embracing. So, it doesn’t give the contractors that flexibility of asking for variation over time.

“By the time we look through the budget, we will know if it is a genuine variation.

“Julius Berger was saying there was a sewage pipe passing through it and in order to divert it there must be variation but for them to disagree there must be a synergy.

“They must agree before us if it is coming from the contingency fund that was provided in the contract but if it is outright variation we will know.”

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