By Omodele Adigun
Dangote Group, the parent company of Alheri Engineering Company Limited, has put a lie to the allegation that the subsidiary owes $75.5 million (about N27.18 billion) to the Federal Government over the Fiber Optic Network contract awarded by the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN).
Describing the accusation as wrong and fallacious, the company explained that the story is “…not only untrue but a distortion of facts and events twisted to achieve a predetermined goal. The story is as bizarre as it is deceptive, calculated only to sensationalize and to smear the good corporate reputation and image of Alheri”
The company stated that after a very extensive and competitive bid selection process, Alheri Engineering Company Limited was shortlisted with Phase 3 as preferred bidders for the concession of the fiber optic deployment project under a Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement
“The concession agreement required the Concessionaires to take over the operations of TCN’s fiber optic network, Design, Build, Finance and Operate (DBFO) the infrastructure with unhindered access to existing and future fiber optic infrastructure on the network. For the purpose of executing the project, the entire country was divided into two. The eastern half of the country awarded to Alheri and the western half to Phase3. It is worth to note that the concessioned area granted to Alheri covers less economic viable cities”, it stated.
Despite the deployment, TCN’s refusal to meet its obligations under the agreement by providing lines upon which to build upon, cost Alheri huge capital outlay to carry out extensive expansion and upgrades on TCN’s telecommunications infrastructure, but could not deploy fiber to the North which constitutes a significant market as “there is no line between Makurdi and Jos, which constitutes the bridge between the South and North.”
Revealing that a request by Alheri for timelines within which TCN intends to provide the requisite lines between Makurdi and Jos since 2011 has not been provided by TCN till date.
THE management of Alheri Engineering Company Limited, however, stated that despite the serious challenges, and making next to nothing on the infrastructure concessioned to it, it was still able to deploy a total of 1000km and installed state-of-the-art transmission equipment along these lines. …” Alheri inherited no lines from TCN. The concessioners have, therefore, expended far more than $100million as capital and operating expenditure on the project.”
Dangote explained in a statement that Alheri’s management expressed surprise at the publication of TCN online and in some newspapers as Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) has already intervened to resolve the impasse, being the moderator in the resolution process and posited that the “unfounded allegation is the attempt by TCN to resist the restructuring of the concession fee due to the changes in the regulatory and market environment as suggested and recommended by SIAO, the auditors appointed to audit the Concession Agreement with specific terms of reference which included financial audit, technical audit, audit observation and recommendation, with the understanding that parties will be guided by the outcome of the Auditors’ report.