The Nigerian construction industry has for decades been dominated by foreign companies. ABDULRAHEEM AODU reports how an indigenous construction company is changing the narratives by blazing a trail of quality delivery in Kaduna state.
Indigenous contractors battle foreign coys’ dominanceFor decades, foreign companies have dominated the construction industry in the country. Though the likes of Dantata and Sawoe are known names in road construction, but foreign companies like Strabag, Julius Berger, Arab Contractors, Eskiogulari and CCECC are in the majority.
These foreign companies have been entrusted with big projects that require technical know-how, big financial outlay, quality and timely delivery whose dominance have been propelled by their capacity, vast capital and extensive machinery. However in recent times, local construction companies have risen up to the table ready to be counted.
In Kaduna state, Farmtrac Nigeria Limited an indigenous company is blazing a trail of quality and timely delivery of projects giving notice of the readiness of indigenous companies to start proving their mettle.
Farmtrac carves a niche in Kachia
In 2016, Governor Nasir el-Rufai gave out road contracts to various contractors across the 23 local government areas in a new contract scheme. The government had an agreement with the contractors that they would be paid N100 million monthly based on the verified extent of work completed. Farmtrac was awarded the contract in Kachia LGA to reconstruct 10km Kachia township roads. It was the only company among all the contractors to complete the project awarded to it within the stipulated deadline.
The company executed the project so well that it was rewarded with another contract in the same Kachia to rehabilitate the 22km road that links the 30,000 hectares Ladduga agricultural hub with Cattle Crossing and Kachia. Farmtrac was also awarded the internal roads of Government Secondary School Kachia, Rimi College and Government College both in Kaduna.
Speaking on what spurred him to complete the Kachia township road contract without sparing quality, the chairman/CEO of Farmtrac, Engr Sadiq Abubakar said he wanted to make a case for indigenous contractors in order to prove that they are capable of quality and timely delivery.
Former majority leader, Kaduna State House of Assembly, who is a member of opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Hon David Umar Gurara lauded the company for the quality of its work in Kachia.
“I’m a PDP member from a different party, but Governor el-Rufai made a good choice in giving the 10km Kachia township roads to Farmtrac.
“I came in September 2019 to start a university project in Kachia and Farmtrac has been of tremendous assistance to the project. The governor made a good choice in picking Farmtrac for the Kachia township roads. I want the governor to give this company other roads to continue to do the good work in Kachia. “In Engr Sadiq Abubakar, I saw a man of humility who is determined to change Kachia to a city. Anywhere he goes, he turns it to his village. He has been very helpful to the Kachia community and because of him we had successful construction of the university roads. He gave us a lot of assistance and equipment.”
Also speaking, chairman of Kachina LGA, Hon Peter Agite thanked Governor el-Rufai for linking Ladduga with Kachia. He also lauded Farmtrac for doing a commendable job.
“We thank God that Governor Nasir el-Rufai brought a capable contractor who is doing his best to bring Kachia to limelight. “Engr. Sadiq Abubakar has done very good works in Kachia township roads and GSS Kachia. He really has the love of Kachia at heart and that is why I’m preaching to my people to remain in peace so that more development can come to Kachia.”
Ladduga and the 30,000 hectares agric hub
Ladduga has been a sleepy agrarian area with 30,000 hectares of fertile land that had for decades been designed as grazing reserves. El-Rufai’s administration also considers making it an agricultural hub, where farmers can produce massive crops, while cattle rearers rear their cattle side by side to achieve localisation of agriculture. The agricultural hub had been abandoned despite its promises and prospects because of the dilapidated state of the only road that linked it with civilisation, the 19km road linking Ladduga with Cattle Crossing and Kachia. The poor state of the road especially the bridge, which was simply impassable anytime it rains, caused the people of Ladduga lots of pain and sadness as they found it difficult to access healthcare in Kachia thereby losing some of their pregnant women and sick children.
The need to provide a solution to the health dilemma of the people, were some of the reasons Governor el-Rufai decided to rehabilitate the road, choosing to award the contract to Farmtrac. Although the contract was initially 19km, it was increased to 22km to serve the Ladduga community and some key areas.
Community lauds el-Rufai over new road
Farmers and community leaders have commended Governor El-Rufai for awarding a road contract to link the 30,000 hectares Ladduga agricultural hub with Cattle Crossing, Kachia. The 22km road which is at 85% completion would provide access to farm produce, beef and hide from Ladduga’s 30,000 hectares farmland and grazing reserves, while preventing pregnant women and children from dying on their way to hospital. According to Ladduga youth leader, Malam Jaafar Salisu, “We are very happy with the road construction; we thank Governor Nasir el-Rufai for awarding the road. Before now, we cannot move our farm produce. “Many pregnant women and children died on the road on their way to Kachia because we don’t have any hospital in Ladduga. It takes us up to one and half hour to reach Cattle Crossing. During the rainy season when the water level is full, vehicles would have to wait for hours for the water to clear. We thank the contractor for doing a quality job. Now when it rains, within five minutes the road would be drained.”As for Hadiza Musa, a fura seller, the road and bridge has made movement easy for them especially during the rains. “During the rains we have to come and wait for hours by the river side for the water to move, but now with the ongoing road construction and the new bridge, we can easily follow the bridge. We thank the government for rebuilding the road.” Speaking on the new road, Saidu Ibrahim, a commercial driver said the new road has changed things in Ladduga. “There is a huge difference now. There are more commercial activities. We now have a good road. Farmtrac is doing very good work and we thank Governor Nasir el-Rufai.”According to Yahuza Ahmad Ladduga, a motorcycle rider, he said, “Motorcycle riders popularly known as okada riders used to have lots of challenges. We thank the contractor for doing a good job. Previously, contractors would come and pour sand promising to do the job without any result, but Farmtrac came with the intention of doing a quality job”.For a former executive secretary, Kaduna State Revenue Board, Alhaji Ahmed Jibril, the new road is a blessing in many ways. “We used to trek for two hours to Cattle Crossing because few vehicles can enter here. Many pregnant women died on their way to hospital in Kachia because of the trekking but now it takes 20 minutes.”
Challenges and prospects of indigenous construction coys
According to Engr Sadiq, local contractors have the capacity and wherewithal to do good and quality jobs. “When I wanted to prove myself, I talked to my bankers to add to what I have.”I know it’s risky but I went ahead because of my conviction that it would help the people and also prove my readiness to work. It’s a challenge to me to compete with foreign contractors but the benefit is that it would create more jobs, stop capital flight and improve local content.” “With right equipment, experienced staff, coupled with high level supervision and discipline, I can compete with foreign contractors,” he said.