Kakatar CE Limited, one of the biggest indigenous construction companies in Nigeria owned by Mr. Azibaola Robert, a cousin to former President Goodluck Jonathan, has laid- off over 1,000 workers.
A source close to the company told The AUTHORITY that the employees were disengaged in batches, first in June and last month following the company’s inability to keep” thousands of the workers who merely report to work daily without doing anything.”
Kakatar, The AUTHORITY checks revealed, is being owed over N10 billion by the Federal Government for various construction projects. On top of that, its accounts were frozen by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in the wake of investigation of the operations of a sister company, OnePlus Holdings, over a $40 million pipeline security contract.
In the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) alone, Kakatar is building infrastructure for Maitama Extension and Kyami Districts, as well as the Karshi-Apo Expressway which is expected to help decongest traffic into the FCT from the AYA/Mararaba axis.
Some FCTA officials told The AUTHORITY that the road project ought to have been completed by the second quarter of the year for commissioning by President Muhammadu Buhari.
One of them said: “Sadly, the huge debt owed Kakatar and several other companies operating in the FCT, coupled with the EFCC freezing of the company’s accounts, made work to come to an abrupt end around the end of April.”
The source however commended Kakatar for keeping its workers for several months, and for continuing work on projects long after other construction companies abandoned their sites and laid-off thousands of workers.
The source lamented that Kakatar’s sack of the workers was bound to negatively affect the economy, saying, “this is one indigenous construction company that had begun giving the so-called big names in the industry nightmares.”
When contacted, Kakatar’s Media Manager, Mr. Austin Ekeinde, said that the company is rationalising its operations but declined to confirm the number of workers affected, saying it was “management’s economic decision.”
He said: “We are not the first construction company to lay off workers. Even banks have been disengaging their workers, so I wonder why this is of particular interest to your newspaper.”
On the alleged freezing of the company’s accounts, Ekeinde said he was unable to confirm the information but said that Kakatar has faced challenges from the EFCC on an issue that had nothing to do with it. He also confirmed that like several construction companies, the Federal Government was indebted to Kakatar, but declined to disclose the amount.