ICRC to Resolve TBS Concession Dispute
By Chinedu Eze
The Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) has said it has completed plans to commence action plans to resolve the concession issue between BHS International Limited, the concessionaire of Tafawa Balewa Square (TBS) in Lagos and the federal government.
The commission, which is saddled with the responsibility of monitoring and ensuring the efficient execution of all Public-Private Partnership (PPP), projects entered into by government agencies on behalf of the Lagos State government said it has reviewed the project’s challenges and would ensure they are resolved.
The TBS complex was given out on concession to the company for 30 years since 2008 and it has been dogged by controversy since then.
Speaking during a visit by the Commission to TBS yesterday, the acting Director General ICRC, Chidi Izuwah said: “We are not unaware of the law suits involving BHS International and the Lagos State government, the friction with the Nigerian Cricket Federation and a host of others.
“We are also informed that one or two committees may have been set up to further strengthen the implementation of this projects as well as an audit exercise which has been conducted as directed by the National Council on Privatisation. In this regard, the commission is here to listen to both parties with regards to the project performance and inherent challenges and thereafter brainstorm on possible ways forward in resolving these challenges.”
Izuwah remarked that infrastructure gap in Nigeria is massive and there is no way the massive infrastructure transformation needed to improve the people’s lives and boost the nation’s economy could be bridged without effective collaboration with the private sector.
He therefore encouraged both parties to support the efforts of the commission in growing the nation’s infrastructure through PPP which is the most efficient procurement alternative.
CEO/Executive Director of BHS International Limited, Mr. Olu Adenodi, had requested the assistance of the commission in mandating agencies of government to commence contract re-negotiation program as decided by the National Council on Privatisation (NCP) to enable investors commit funds to build projects.
“We ask that the federal government consider a provision of seven-eight years construction period in the agreement or consider converting the last ten years consumed in multiple disputes as moratorium to enable BHS continue and complete the plan approval,” Adenodi said.
He asked that the Lagos State government withdraw the suit challenging ownership of the TBS, which is currently before the Supreme Court to pave the way for unfettered access to funds, the indemnity notwithstanding.
In response, the head of management, TBS said BHS International Limited still owed an outstanding remittance fees of N465 million.
Usman however, commended BHS for making substantial payments in the last two years but stressed that a lot still needed to be done.
“The concession is a developmental concession, which means, in the first 10 years, they are expected to invest to generate more money but unfortunately, because of the circumstances on ground, the issue is yet to be addressed because there are no investments on ground for them to generate N250 million yearly.
“We have collaborated with them and they have provided their master plan. They have given them bill of N1.4 billion to pay to get the approval. Without the approval, the development cannot come on stream. The amount is so much and I do not know how they can generate the money,” he added.