#African construction

Lubrik Construction

|Jun 3|magazine14 min read

Lubrik Construction recently won a $122 million contract to spearhead the development of Onne Port Complex in Rivers State, Nigeria, underlining how much the firm has thrived in just eight years.

With headquarters based in nearby Port Harcourt and procurement offices in Lebanon and London as well as offices in the Nigerian cities of Abuja and Lagos, Lubrik has subsequently grown into a truly international operation and is taking on bigger projects each year.

Now the Business Development Manager, Mark Robertson, is looking forward to continuing the progression already made. He said: “Our $122 million project for Indorama Petrochemicals in the Onne Port complex is far more than just a normal engineering, procurement and construction contract. We are also responsible for the training of client’s staff, commissioning of equipment as well as the start-up of export operations, as we have to hand over a fully operational and commissioned jetty with associated buildings and urea powder handling system at the end of the project.

“Physically it consists of the jetty structure, container stacking area, a large general warehouse, and an array of facilities for export of urea fertilizer such as a truck unloading station, conveyors, bucket elevators and bulk reclaimers that handle the urea powder to its special warehouse and from there to the ship loading structures, all of which are protected from the elements due to the sensitive nature of the material.”

With adjacent facilities such as workshops, administration buildings and so on there are 18 buildings of various sizes in total. This includes full equipping in terms of MEP (mechanical, electrical, plumbing), security and shipping services. The sheer size of content versus the size of the plot of only 6.8ha is a challenge in itself, while Lubrik also had to overcome challenges such as the bad quality of the soil in the port’s swampy area, and very strict timeframe for completion.

Building a road anywhere is challenging enough, but when it goes through an area which is made up of dense vegetation, swamps, rocky outcrops and a river; it makes it even more challenging. With the help of a very cooperative local community and a proactive client, these challenges were overcome by Lubrik when building the access roads for the Unicem cement plant; another standout project in its portfolio.

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This particular road will be one of the first roads in Nigeria constructed using a Slipform machine, which enables the road to be constructed faster, while being made of concrete it will be more durable and reduce maintenance costs for both the road and the vehicles using it.

Expansion and diversification

Current expansion plans include growing Lubrik’s core construction business in Rivers State. Management hope to achieve this by focusing on specific areas of construction, jetties, roads and high rise buildings.

Currently, state government are a big source of construction work with multi-million dollar projects on offer. But the firm hopes to diversify by adding more revenue streams; thus keeping the organisation agile.

Robertson said: “We already have our own quarry that supplies all of our aggregates and are now looking to open our ready-mix concrete plants and asphalt plants for the commercial market so this will provide another income stream. Our plans also include the execution of projects in Abuja and Lagos.

“We believe that with our experience and reputation as a contractor that gets it right the first time we will offer a first class alternative to the current contractors in these markets. Our ability to react to market trends set us out from our competitors. We also like to ensure full dialogue with the community we are working with, making sure we deliver on their expectations as well as the client’s.

“The biggest challenge in setting up a new business is obtaining work, in order to do this we had to invest money and time into the marketing of the company, starting with smaller projects and working our way up to where we are today. It takes years to build a solid reputation but only days to ruin it with poor management and poor workmanship, so employee retention and training is a very important function in this aspect”

Materials where possible are purchased from the local area during a project, in order to put something back. Being ahead of competitors is one of the things that differentiate us from other contractors.

Progressive ethos

The name Lubrik is well known within the Port Harcourt area for the quality of work the company executes, and Robertson believes this has attracted several prospective employees its way.

He said: “Our company views the development of its employees as one of the prerequisites to succeeding in the Construction Industry. We therefore encourage our employees to develop themselves and assist them in any way we can. We conduct some in-house trainings where consultants are contracted to train our staff in different areas. We also conduct on the job training for employees interested in learning from other departments.

“Our staff who have indicated their interest in furthering their education are given time off work for this purpose and some financial assistance where applicable. We offer apprenticeships in some departments too, and they are available to both members of the local community where we have a construction site and other Nigerians interested in developing themselves.”

Lubrik continues to invest in new machinery in order to maintain its level of service following on from the company’s major capital investments in the last few years. Investments include a PLC system for concrete batching plants, Gomaco slipform machine, cranes lifting from 60 to 160 tonnes, a new concrete plant and fleet of 15 new tipper tricks, two fully mobile workshop for maintenance and a modern new crusher for quarry work.

“In five years’ time we would like to be considered in the top five contractors in Nigeria. With our determination and loyal staff along with the leadership and drive of our Managing Director Gilbert Sassine, we are confident that we will reach our goals.” concluded Robertson

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