New flagship barge for Red7Marine

Haven SeaChallenger (Image from Costain)The monohull jack-up barge has deck dimensions of 50 metres by 24 metres and a leg length of 55 metres, making it the biggest in the company’s fleet.

Red7Marine described the purchase of the Haven SeaChallenger as “an exciting step-change” for the company. It now owns and operates 12 jack-up barges, with payload capacities ranging from 100 tonnes to 1,000 tonnes.

The barge allows Red7Marine to take on bigger projects and offer clients a liveaboard option, which can be a differentiator on projects where crew transfers are costly and time-consuming. This will be essential in meeting the company’s aim to move into renewable markets and to offer support on large marine infrastructure projects, the company said.

It was previously owned by Fugro, as the Fugro F1200, purchased in 2010 after a majore rebuild. It was originally built in 1974.

Red7Marine managing director Kristen Branford said: “By purchasing the Haven SeaChallenger, we are ready to take on bigger projects with an enhanced capability. This will open greater market share for the business and is an investment which will grow our core business activity as well as open new doors.”

Chief executive Nick Offord added: “We are already in discussions regarding several future projects for the Haven SeaChallenger and look forward to seeing where the barges’ first charter will be.”

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New flagship barge for Red7Marine – The Construction Index – 2021-04-08 07:55:00

Taylor Woodrow wins £328m deal to upgrade A358

Taylor Woodrow has been awarded a £328m contract by Highways England to upgrade the A358 in the South West.
Nine miles of road will be upgraded to dual carriageway between the Southfields roundabout on the A303 and the M5 in Somerset. Taylor Woodrow has been carrying out ground investigations and environmental surveys for the scheme alongside Arup and Ramboll. The project will now go through statutory consultation ahead of a development consent order application being submitted.
Taylor Woodrow was first awarded the job in November last year, ahead of the final value of the contract being agreed.
Highways England programme leader for the A358 Andrew Alcorn said: “Taylor Woodrow has an extensive track record working with Highways England and delivering large scale infrastructure projects, so we are confident they will deliver a scheme that will support economic growth, improve traffic flows at peak times and make the road safer.”
The A358 upgrade is part of a wider plan to increase road capacity in the South West, which includes the construction of the A303 Stonehenge tunnel. The project received a development consent order approval last year. Widening of the A303 between Sparkford and Ilchester in Somerset was also approved last year by the transport secretary.

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Taylor Woodrow wins £328m deal to upgrade A358 – David Price – 2021-04-07 13:16:40

Theatrical fog formula approved as antimicrobial air treatment

As more is known about COVID-19, preventive measures continue to emerge and compete.

The engineering firm NV5, which provides third-party verification on WELL v2 projects for the Green Business Certification Institute, has been recommending to its clients Safe Traces, a solution that uses DNA-based sprays and sensors to verify engineering and HVAC controls for airborne contaminants. Its veriDART control verification uses “aerosol mobility indicators” to identify hotspots, assess ventilation and filtration, and inform remediations.

On January 15, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced approval of an emergency exemption request for the use of Grignard Pure, which claims to be the first-ever antimicrobial air treatment solution. Georgia and Tennessee were the first states granted exemptions to use Grignard Pure in certain indoor spaces. Another 17 states have expressed interest, according to Etienne Grignard, co-founder and CEO of Grignard Company in Rahway, N.J., whom BD+C interviewed in February. 

“There’s no limit to where we can use it. The issue is just scaling the equipment to the system to which it is being deployed,” declares Mitchel Simpler, PE, FACEP, a Partner with Jaros, Baum & Bolles (JB&B), one of four engineering firms—the others being STV, ME Engineers, and Cosentini Associates—that comprise Grignard Pure’s engineering steering committee.


Grignard Pure has worked with Luminator Technology to devise an air treatment system for mass transit, which has already been tested on trains moving through several states. Courtesy of Grignard Pure


Simpler introduced Grignard to Dr. William Esposito, Founder of the Ambient Group and a leading industrial hygienist, who was an early proponent about the airborne transmission of COVID-19. “He convinced me that Grignard Pure is for real,” says Simpler. Esposito is part of Grignard Pure’s senior advisory leadership, along with William Jordan, the former deputy director of EPA’s pesticide programs.


Grignard Pure’s arrival

To say that Grignard Pure’s arrival was theatrical is no exaggeration.

Back in 2000, lighting equipment manufacturers requested a health and safety assessment of a product Grignard made that they were using to create haze and fog during concerts and plays. Grignard determined that four of the product’s ingredients, including triethylene glycol (TEG), were safe to breathe.

Fast forward 15 years: Grignard’s chemists discovered that TEG—a colorless, viscous liquid that is the active ingredient in Grignard Pure—had demonstrated efficacy against viruses. The company sought EPA approval to use it for virus deactivation, but EPA at the time wasn’t disposed to creating an entirely new category for antivirus antimicrobials. The approval request got shelved until the coronavirus hit the U.S. in 2020, at which point, Grignard began working with Microchem Laboratories to develop protocols for using this formula. 

JB&B conducted proof-of-concept engineering assessments by distributing Grignard Pure through existing HVAC systems at two sites: Cincinnati’s Great American Ball Park, where the solution was applied to the owner’s suite; and the 1,700-seat New Amsterdam Theater in New York, where the test ran for two weeks. These tests demonstrated that, in an aerosolized microdroplet state, Grignard Pure behaves like a gas in its ability to distribute, dilute, and disperse in an atmosphere of occupied spaces.

Grignard Company eventually had the testing and efficacy data to prove that Grignard Pure could deactivate more than 98% of the COVID-19 strain in less than one minute. It reapplied for EPA approval in April 2020. 

Last February, Jordan and Jack Caravanos, Clinical Professor of Environmental Health Sciences at New York University’s School of Global Public Health, posted a 75-page paper that provides a detailed assessment of Grignard Pure’s safety. (Caravanos sits on Grignard Pure’s seven-person science advisory team.)

Simpler and Grignard state that the federal government has shown interest in Grignard Pure for use in mass transit. Grignard Company partnered with Luminator Technology Group to develop an airborne intervention system ( that uses atomizers and sensors to dispense Grignard Pure into the atmospheres of buses and trains. The sensors monitor capacity and conditions of the vehicle and adjust the air treatment accordingly. The system coordinates with on-board displays and audio announcements.

Grignard says he’s most proud of the role his company played in creating a new category for assessing antivirus antimicrobials. EPA invited JB&B and Grignard Company to assist the agency in establishing protocols for testing anti-virus products. “A year from now, I hope we’re talking about how we helped bring back some normalcy to the world.”

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Theatrical fog formula approved as antimicrobial air treatment – dbarista – 2021-03-31 20:00:59

FrieslandCampina WAMCO Nigeria PLC solid and steady progress on backward integration in dairy development in Nigeria

UAC of Nigeria PLC (“UAC” or the “Group”) announced its audited results for the year ended 31 December 2020.HighlightsRevenue 3% ahead of FY 2019, despite COVID-19 related disruptions.Gross margin 134bps lower due to limited sales during the Q2 2020 restrictions to the movement of people and goods, as well as, higher input costs.Underlying operating profit 26% lower at ₦3.6 billion, largely on account of the Paints segment.Total profit for the period was ₦3.9 billion, a reversal from the ₦9.3 billion loss reported in FY 2019.Earnings per share was 92 kobo, up from negative 183 kobo in FY 2019.Total dividend of 120 kobo per share (₦5 billion) comprised of an ordinary dividend of 65 kobo and a special dividend of 55 kobo per share. This translates to a dividend yield of 13.8%. Subsidiary and associate company highlightsCompleted partial exit from UACN Property Development Company PLC (“UPDC”). Received N6 billion cash proceeds and 649,392,661 UPDC Real Estate Investment Trust (“UPDC REIT”) units valued at N3.6 billion. UPDC and UPDC REIT are now classified as investments in associates.Divested an 8% stake in MDS Logistics Limited (“MDS Logistics”) to our joint venture partner, Imperial Logistics. This reduced UAC’s ownership from 51% to 43%. MDS Logistics is now classified as an investment in associate.Chemical and Allied Products PLC (“CAP”) and Portland Paints and Products Nigeria PLC (“Portland Paints”) announced plans to merge.Proposed corporate actionsUnbundling of UPDC REIT units, valued at N6 billion, to UAC shareholders was approved by the Board of Directors. Completion is subject to regulatory and shareholder approvals as well as the sanction of the court.Commenting on the results and corporate actions, Group Managing Director, Fola Aiyesimoju, stated: “UAC’s objective is to generate attractive long-term, risk-adjusted returns for our shareholders. I am delighted that the Board approved ₦7.1 billion in capital returns to shareholders via a mix of dividends and REIT units totalling N2.47 per share or a 28.3% return at current market values.Over the last 12 months, we faced a recession, civil unrest, and significant changes to the way we work due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In spite of these headwinds, we executed our key priorities, implemented initiatives relating to UPDC, strengthened management, and returned the Group to profitability.As part of the partial exit from UPDC, we received ₦6.6 billion net cash proceeds and 649 million UPDC REIT units valued at ₦3.6 billion. I am excited that we are unlocking value for our shareholders via a special dividend, as well as, the unbundling of UPDC REIT units which, if approved by regulators, shareholders and sanctioned by the court, will see UAC’s shareholders become direct holders of units in UPDC REIT.Going forward, our focus remains on creating shareholder value and we continue to prioritise growth, scale, and simplicity to achieve this. We will explore acquisitions as an avenue to accelerate growth.”Corporate Action: Proposed Unbundling of UPDC REIT UnitsConsistent with our commitment to create sustainable shareholder value, the Board of Directors is pleased to announce its decision to unbundle its 24.34% interest in UPDC Real Estate Investment Trust (649 million units valued at N3.6 billion) to UAC shareholders. Following the unbundling, UAC will no longer own any UPDC REIT units, and UAC’s shareholders will become direct holders of UPDC REIT units. The allocation ratio of 0.2254 will see UAC shareholders receive 226 UPDC REIT units for every 1,000 UAC shares owned, providing UAC shareholders with a capital return of N1.27 per share or 14.5% based on the respective market prices of UAC and UPDC REIT as at 29 March 2021. The proposed initiative will provide shareholders with direct exposure to UPDC REIT and its diverse portfolio of income generating assets, ensuring that shareholders directly benefit from future potential dividend distributions from the UPDC REIT.Implementation framework: The transfer of UPDC REIT units to UAC’s shareholders will be implemented through a Scheme of Arrangement under Section 715 of the Companies and Allied Matters, Act, 2020 as amended (“CAMA”), incorporating a reduction in share capital under Section 131 of CAMA. The effect of the scheme will be that UPDC REIT units owned by UAC will be transferred to UAC’s shareholders, pro-rata to their shareholding in UAC. If the Scheme is approved and implemented, UAC’s shareholders will hold UPDyou C REIT units in addition to their existing shares in UAC. UAC will cease to be a unitholder in UPDC REIT.The announced plan is subject to the review and approval of regulators, UAC shareholders at a court-ordered meeting, as well as the sanction of the court. Accordingly, shareholders and the investing public are advised to exercise caution when dealing in the securities of UAC and UPDC REIT. Further updates will be communicated accordingly.Group HighlightsAttributable to share of profit from MDS Logistics and UPDC where UAC holds 43% and 42.85% of the respective company’s shares.Accounting ChangesThe following transactions in respect of equity interests in subsidiaries are responsible for key accounting changes in FY 2020 compared to FY 2019:The divestment of control in MDS Logistics and UPDC. UAC now accounts for MDS Logistics and UPDC as “investments in associates” in the Statement of Financial Position (“SOFP”). UAC’s share of profit from both entities is reported under “Share of Profit of Associates and JVs” in the Group Statement of Profit or Loss (“P or L”) for year ended 31 December 2020. Group Performance and Financial Review: FY 2020Revenue in FY 2020 increased 2.7% YoY to ₦81.4 billion supported by sales growth in the Animal Feeds & Other Edibles segment (+4.6% YoY), the Packaged Food & Beverages segment (1.8%) and the Quick Service Restaurant Segment (1.8%). These segments were deemed essential services during the period of stringent restrictions to the movement of people and goods to curtail the spread of COVID-19.Gross profit in FY 2020 declined 3.8% YoY to ₦16.0 billion as a result of limited sales during the strictest phase of the restrictions to the movement of people and goods (April and May), and higher input costs.Operating Profit was ₦3.6 billion in FY 2020 compared to ₦5.7 billion in the previous year. Adjusting for non-recurring income in 2019 from the sale of non-core real estate assets (₦631 million) and the writeback of statute barred unclaimed dividend (₦206 million), underlying FY 2020 EBIT declined 25.8% YoY to ₦3.6 billion in 2020 versus ₦4.8 billion in 2019. The decline was largely attributable to the Paints segment which was categorised as “non-essential” and was impacted by reduced sales in April and May, as well as input cost escalation partly attributable to foreign exchange devaluation, supply chain disruptions which impacted raw material sourcing, and rising employee costs on account of initiatives to strengthen management teams across the Group.Underlying Profit before Tax was 23% lower YoY at ₦5.1 billion in FY 2020 on account of lower operating profit and steep decline in net finance income (-69.0% YoY) on account of lower investment income yields compared to the prior year. The decline in net finance income was offset by the share of profit of associates of ₦973 million earned from MDS and UPDC, largely attributable to a non-cash, mark to market increase in the fair value of UPDC REIT.Profit after Tax from continuing operations was ₦3.5 billion, down 35.3% YoY against ₦5.3 billion in FY 2019. Total profit for the period was ₦3.9 billion in FY 2020, a reversal from the ₦9.3 billion loss reported in FY 2019. Earnings per share for FY 2020 was 92 kobo, up from negative 183 kobo in FY 2019.Free Cash Flow for the period was negative ₦3.0 billion in FY 2020, compared with negative ₦5.6 billion in FY 2019. Free cash flow in FY 2020 improved significantly on account of the ₦4.2 billion gain from the change in net assets of disposal group held for sale, as a result of the sale of controlling stake in MDS and UPDC. Free cash flow was also impacted by higher net capital expenditure YoY (+71% increase to ₦4.4 billion in FY 2020) from investments in production capacity and cold chain distribution for the Packaged Food and Beverages segment.Return on Equity (ROE) from continuing operations at the end of December 2020 was 5%, a reversal from negative 10.6% as at the same period last year. Return on Invested Capital (ROIC) was 103bps lower at 5.9% (6.9% in FY2019).Segment PerformancePerformance of the corporate head office not included in the table as it is not allocated to any segment. Animal Feeds and Other Edibles Revenue from the Animal Feeds and Other Edibles segment increased 4.6% YoY to N54.2 billion in FY 2020. Price increases, as well as volume growth, across major categories to offset higher input costs primarily contributed to the 17.7% increase in YoY EBIT to ₦2.1 billion (FY 2019: ₦1.8 billion). The segment recorded a ₦1.7 billion Profit before Tax in FY 2020, against a ₦990 million Profit before Tax in FY 2019.Paints Corporate Action: On 26 October 2020, Chemical and Allied Products PLC (CAP) and Portland Paints and Products Nigeria PLC (Portland Paints) announced their intention to merge their respective businesses. The boards and management of CAP and Portland Paints expect the proposed merger to be value accretive to stakeholders of both companies. The respective minority shareholders of both companies approved the merger at separate court-ordered meetings on 18 February 2021. Completion is subject to final regulatory approvals and court sanction, expected in Q2 2021.Financial review: The Paints segment reported revenue contraction of 5.4% YoY to ₦10.4billion in FY 2020. The decline in revenue was largely a result of lower sales as this segment was categorised as “non-essential” and was impacted by COVID-19 related restrictions particularly in April and May 2020. Operating profit was 45.3% lower at ₦1.2 billion as a result of losses during the period of no sales, higher royalties, and rising input costs. Profit before Tax of ₦1.5 billion in FY 2020 was 45% lower than FY 2019.Packaged Food and Beverages The Packaged Food and Beverages segment recorded revenue growth of 1.8% YoY in FY 2020 of ₦17.9 billion (FY 2019: ₦17.5 billion). Lower volumes in the snacks category on account of movement restrictions and the partial shutdown of markets to curtail the spread of COVID-19 in Q2, were offset by higher volumes in water and ice cream categories, as well as, increased sales in the snacks category in Q4 pls due to sales and marketing efforts. Operating profit increased by 13.3% to N1.4 billion (FY 2019: N1.2 billion) on account of lower operating costs. Profit before Tax declined by 12.0% to ₦1.4 billion on account of lower finance income.Quick Service Restaurants Revenue from the Quick Service Restaurants segment grew 1.8% YoY to ₦1.53 billion in FY 2020 from ₦1.50 billion in FY 2019 on account of an increase in the number of company-owned restaurants (corporate stores). The segment recorded a ₦48 million operating loss in FY 2020 as a result of higher cost of sales and operating costs. UAC Restaurants recorded a ₦57 million Loss before Tax in FY 2020, against a ₦75 million Loss before Tax in FY 2019.Associate: Real Estate (UPDC – 43% ownership)Corporate Action: Sale of 51% stake: On 3 August 2020, UAC entered into a binding agreement with Custodian Investment PLC regarding the acquisition of a 51% stake in UPDC to be completed in two tranches. The first tranche, representing a 5.1% stake was completed in September 2020. The sale of the second tranche of UPDC shares representing a 45.9% stake was concluded on 17 November 2020. UAC received N6.6 billion in cash proceeds and retains a 42.85% stake in UPDC.Unbundling of UPDC REIT units: In 2020, UPDC embarked on a process to unbundle its holdings in UPDC REIT to its shareholders. This initiative was aimed at maximising returns to all UPDC’s shareholders by providing direct access to the steady and regular dividend distributions of UPDC REIT. UAC, as a shareholder of UPDC, received 649,392,661 UPDC REIT units, representing a 24.34% stake, valued at N3.6 billion as at 31 December 2020.Financial review: UPDC’s FY 2020 revenue was ₦1.7 billion, 22.9% lower than FY 2019 as a result of challenging operating environment exacerbated by the ongoing pandemic. Revenue declined on account of lower sales of properties at ₦1.3 billion compared to FY 2019 of ₦1.7 billion (-24.8%), lower rental income and management fees at ₦96 million compared to FY 2019 of ₦167 million (-42.3%).The segment recorded an operating loss of ₦713 million in FY 2020, an improvement compared to operating loss of ₦1.3 billion in FY 2019 due to improvement in gross profit from inventory write back. Although the company incurred net finance costs of ₦1.5 billion (-43.4% lower YoY) and provision for First Festival Mall loan guarantee of ₦940 million, the fair value gain of ₦2.9 billion, earned on the Company’s asset disposal group held for sale contributed to UPDC recording a ₦263 million Loss before Tax in FY 2020, an improvement of 98.4% against a ₦16.2 billion Loss before Tax in FY 2019. Associate: Logistics (MDS Logistics – 43% ownership)MDS Logistics’ FY 2020 revenue increased 40.3% YoY to ₦8.0 billion from ₦5.7 billion driven by increase in demand for haulage services. Operating profit increased 15.9% YoY to ₦875 million (FY 2019: ₦755 million) resulting in EBIT margin of 11% in FY 2020, a 231bps compression compared to the prior year on account of higher cost of sales. Profit before Tax of ₦388 million in FY 2020 was 44.8% lower than FY 2019 (₦703 million) as a result of increased finance costs incurred on a loan to fund recent capital expenditure to support the haulage business. Profit after Tax was ₦289 million in FY 2020.Results Conference CallManagement will host an investor and analyst conference call on Thursday, 1 April 2021 at 3pm WAT to present and discuss the Group results. The presentation and conference call details are available on our website ( Please direct any questions regarding the conference call to UAC Investor Relations, via e-mail, at [email protected]. For more information, please contactFunke Ijaiya-OladipoGroup Chief Financial Officer[email protected]+234 906 269 About UACUAC of Nigeria PLC (UAC) is a holding company with subsidiary and associate companies operating in the Animal Feeds and Other Edibles; Paints; Packaged Food and Beverages; Quick Service Restaurants; Logistics and Real Estate segments. UAC has played a prominent role Nigeria’s development for over a century. The company is focused on building its businesses into leaders in their chosen segments.UAC has four operating platformsAnimal Feeds and Other EdiblesGrand Cereals Limited (71.4% ownership) – a leading producer of cereals, edible oils, poultry feed, fish feed, ruminant feed and dog food. The company has production and distribution facilities in Northern and South Eastern Nigeria. It owns a portfolio of strong brands including Grand, Vital, and Best Mate.Livestock Feeds PLC (73.0% ownership) – produces and distributes poultry feed, feed concentrates and full fat soya. The company recently expanded its offering to include veterinary drugs. Livestock Feeds’ geographic strength is in South West Nigeria. The company is listed on The Nigerian Stock Exchange (“The NSE”).PaintsChemical and Allied Products PLC (51.5% ownership) – the leading player in the premium paints segment and the sole technology licensee for AkzoNobel’s decorative range in Nigeria. The company benefits from a unique distribution model – franchised retail outlets, which it pioneered in Nigeria’s paint industry. CAP is listed on The NSE.Portland Paints and Products Nigeria PLC (85.98% ownership) – is a distributor for Hempel’s industrial products in Nigeria. It also manufactures and markets decorative and industrial paints under its own brand, Sandtex. PPNL is listed on The NSE.Packaged Food and BeveragesUAC Foods Limited (51% ownership) – a joint venture business with Tiger Brands and leader in the snacks, ice-cream, and spring water categories. It owns iconic brands including Gala, Funtime, Supreme and SWAN Spring Water.Quick Service RestaurantsUAC Restaurants Limited (51% ownership) – a joint venture with Famous Brands, manages the network of Quick Service Restaurants across Nigeria under the Mr Bigg’s and Debonairs Pizza brands.UAC owns minority stakes in Logistics and Real Estate businessesLogisticsMDS Logistics Limited (43% ownership) – a leading logistics provider in Nigeria, offers the complete suite of outbound logistics and supply chain services including Warehousing, Haulage and Distribution.Real EstateUACN Property Development Company PLC (42.9% ownership) – a foremost property development and management company quoted on The NSE.UPDC Real Estate Investment Trust (24.3% ownership) – a close-ended property fund listed on The NSE, with a market capitalisation of ₦14.7 billion as at 31 December 2020.For more information visit 

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FrieslandCampina WAMCO Nigeria PLC solid and steady progress on backward integration in dairy development in Nigeria – NM Partners – 2021-03-31 17:12:55

New pre-qualification system goes live

Build UK has announced that the new industry-wide pre-qualification (PQ) system is now fully up and running, with the aim of simplifying a previously complex system for the benefit of everyone in the construction sector, it says.

The hope is that the rollout of the common assessment standard will reduce the duplication of time, effort and resources that are costing the sector up to £1bn a year.

Major contractors and clients – including Balfour Beatty, Costain, HS2, Mace, Multiplex and Skanska – have all adopted the common assessment standard, meaning that members of their supply chains need to obtain just one certification to tender for work with them. This follows the recent implementation of a new data sharing solution, which enables contractors and clients to obtain key PQ data from any one of three recognised assessment bodies: Achilles, CHAS or Constructionline.

The common assessment standard is an industry-agreed question set with two levels of certification – desktop and site-based – and companies can apply to any of the recognised assessment bodies to get the appropriate level dependent upon their trade, size and requirements of their clients.

Created by Build UK with the support of the Civil Engineering Contractors Association, the common assessment standard is endorsed by the Construction Leadership Council (CLC), which is pushing for its adoption throughout government construction procurement, including the Construction Playbook.

Build UK deputy chief executive Jo Fautley said: “We’re delighted that the new system is now fully up and running and already being used by major contractors and clients. It’s been a collaborative effort, involving companies across the whole sector, and the new system is a huge step towards more efficient working, which is more important than ever in the current challenging economic climate.”

Vinci procurement director Neil Mant chaired the interim cross industry body that has overseen the development of the new system. He said: “The new PQ system is a huge step forward for construction. With a single common assessment standard and data sharing now in place, we have not only eliminated a huge amount of costly duplication of effort but also raised the bar in assessing the competence of the supply chain. Supply chain companies will need certification from only one of the three recognised assessment bodies, and contractors can continue to deal with the body they have an existing relationship with.”

Construction Leadership Council chair Andy Mitchell said: “The CLC is delighted to endorse the common assessment standard, which is set to transform the construction PQ process. It is a real and practical way of reducing bureaucracy and improving quality in the industry and it comes at just the right time. Companies will be able to demonstrate that they meet an agreed industry standard, and clients and contractors will be able to rely on the certification. The CLC will be encouraging the adoption of the common assessment standard throughout public and private sector procurement.”
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New pre-qualification system goes live – The Construction Index – 2021-03-29 08:46:00

How we’re helping unlock UK buildings through safe ventilation

The COVID-19 pandemic has delivered a ‘stress test’ like no other to all businesses operating within the UK.
As we learn to live with the ongoing threat of the virus and its variants, and prepare for the UK to unlock, how do we return in the safest way possible?
When the UK Government initially published COVID-19 guidance for workplaces and construction sites, it focused on direct contact-based infection as well as near-field transmission, between people less than two metres apart. Little was mentioned in the early days of the pandemic about the risks of far-field aerosol transmission (see first picture, below), over distances beyond two metres.
From an early stage it became apparent that the World Health Organisation (WHO) was reluctant to acknowledge advice from aerosol scientists, who were warning about the risk of far-field airborne aerosol transmission.
Some of those experts cited apparent flaws in the WHO’s understanding of the size of aerosol particles and their ability to travel distances greater than two metres. On 6 July 2020, two leading aerosol scientists, supported by an international group of 237 related specialists, published a commentary in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, which urged the authorities to acknowledge the potential for airborne transmission. Since then, the evidence of far-field transmission has steadily grown, and it is now widely recognised as being a significant cause of coronavirus infection.
Minimising far-field COVID risks
Concerned about the return of our own team from lockdown to our offices, we developed a COVID-19 ventilation risk assessment. This incorporated the latest guidance from UK Government and reputable industry bodies. An embedded natural ventilation calculator was used to estimate air-flow rates through windows, and we invested in air-flow measuring equipment to assess mechanical ventilation systems. This enabled us to reconfigure our offices to minimise far-field COVID risks.
Shortly after, we were approached by a client who needed advice on how to assess the adequacy of their ventilation systems, to help them provide a safe return for their workforce. Today, we are working with numerous clients to deliver COVID-19 air ventilation audits, to help businesses prepare for unlocking during 2021.
As a father of two school-age children, my thoughts recently shifted to the return of pupils to the classroom. There remains a question as to whether school classrooms may prove to be COVID-19 ‘super spreader’ environments (see picture, below). Current UK guidance from SAGE and the HSE is to prioritise improvements where room carbon-dioxide levels are greater than 1500ppm, indicating poor ventilation, and where fresh air rates are less than 5 litres per second per person.
Checking back on school design regulations, since 1997 (at least), classroom ventilation should be capable of providing 8 litres per second per person, though reduced ventilation rates are often encountered during colder weather, when windows are closed or automated ventilation systems are turned down to maintain classroom temperatures.
The Federation of European Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning Associations (REHVA) has published an online calculator for assessing airborne COVID-19 risk for different space types, including classrooms. The following table gives results for a typical classroom under varying ventilation rates and other variables, based on one COVID-19 infected occupant.
Air flow (l/s/person)
Time in room (hours)
Face mask type
Speech levels (% speaking)
Virus strain
Probably of infection
Good fit, multi-layer
UK (Kent)
Source: REHVA, based on mask and strain data from MIT
Points of note from the above results:
Reducing time spent by pupils in a classroom, with gaps between to purge the air, will prevent the build-up of COVID19. Transmission risk is very low for one-hour lessons (scenarios A and B);
Well-ventilated classrooms are key to transmission-risk reduction (scenarios C-E);
The amount of speech occurring within the classroom has a significant impact on transmission risk (scenarios D and F);
Multi-layer fabric masks can significantly reduce the level of exhaled particles and therefore the transmission risk (scenario E);
A combination of factors including poor ventilation, long duration in the classroom, no masks, and noisy children will significantly increase transmission risk.
Research is ongoing into airborne COVID-19 transmission and the REHVA calculation tool recognises this and is caveated in numerous places. It also ignores near-field and contact transmission, which would both tend to increase the transmission risks stated above.
Richard Lewis is technical director at Davies Partnership. For more information about COVID-19 ventilation audits, contact him via

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How we’re helping unlock UK buildings through safe ventilation – Contributor – 2021-03-26 07:50:19

SGF, NSA, IG, Minister, SSGs Endorse Joint Operations to Flush out Bandits

Tobi Soniyi
A joint operation to deliberately deny criminals room for manoeuvre and change of locations and hideouts has been approved by a forum of prominent state players as part of a new initiative to curb the growing insecurity in the country. Key actors, who endorsed the move, include Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha; National Security Adviser (NSA) Babagana Monguno; and Inspector General of Police Mohammed Adamu. Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development (FMHADM&SD), Sadiya Umar Farouk; Minister of Environment, Dr. Abubakar Mahmood; and the 36 Secretaries to the State Governments also approved the new operation.

The resolution was part of the decisions reached at the first quarter regular meetings by the Forum of Secretary to the Government of the Federation with Secretaries to the State Governments, which held virtually on Thursday.

According to a communiqué issued yesterday, the meeting urged the Secretaries to the State Governments to explore possibilities of joint operations by states to prevent free movements by criminals between states.“This is to avoid bandits moving from areas of hot pursuit to other areas and returning, when the heat is down,” the communiqué stated.Themed, “Role of Secretaries to the State Governments in Strengthening Sub-National Level Security Architecture,” the meeting was chaired by Mustapha in company with other stakeholders.
The forum called on the federal government to strengthen border controls in order to check illegal immigrants and influx of weapons from other countries. It emphasised the need to resuscitate community-driven safety measures and address existing trust deficits to encourage willingness to release information to state security agencies.“The meeting emphasised the need to recalibrate our traditional governance systems to the time-tested and proven method of responsiveness to civil society at the local levels, which hitherto prevailed in the country,” the communiqué stated.
The forum said there was need to automate the national security architecture and provide adequate resources for personnel, equipment, and operations. It highlighted the need to improve the current low police to population ratio and imbibe community policing. It reiterated the need for appropriate public enlightenment to raise security awareness among the citizenry.
The meeting equally recognised the coordinating role of the Secretaries to the State Governments and called on them to strengthen non-kinetic approaches, especially, by establishing a community level early warning systems.
The forum also noted progress made in strengthening federal and state governments’ relationship in delivering poverty eradication initiatives and called for sustenance and scaling up in view of the growing poverty situation in the country.
Farouk disclosed that there was an on-going high-level consultation to establish structures that would ensure that all agencies responsible for implementing poverty eradication programmes/projects cooperated. The consultation is also to ensure that the agencies are well coordinated to share experiences, share data and complement each other for effectiveness, better deployment of resources, and higher poverty reduction impacts, she said.
Farouk said at the federal level, there will be National Poverty Eradication Cooperation and Coordinating Committee (NPCCC) chaired by her. She explained that at the state level, there would also be a Poverty Eradication Cooperation and Coordination Committee (SPCCC), under the Offices of the SSGs, aimed at achieving similar objectives.
The minister said the ministry had established the National Social Register (NSR) aimed at capturing in details the data on all poor and vulnerable citizens in the country, adding, “So far, nearly 30 million individuals have been registered nationwide.”The forum further examined the inextricable linkage between environmental degradation, security and conflict for resource use and management. It called for a National Forestry and Biodiversity Summit and urged the Federal Ministry of Environment to provide leadership for its convocation.
The forum urged state governments to strengthen their various forestry services especially, by prioritising sustainable forest management practices, developing and adhering to forest management plans, and strengthening the state forestry services. It appealed to the federal government to support the Federal Ministry of Environment in undertaking a comprehensive forest resources assessment.
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SGF, NSA, IG, Minister, SSGs Endorse Joint Operations to Flush out Bandits – editor – 2021-03-21 06:00:50

Construction employment slips in 225 metros from January 2020 to January 2021

Construction employment decreased from January 2020 to January 2021 in nearly two-thirds of the nation’s metro areas, according to an analysis by the Associated General Contractors of America of government employment data released today, as project cancellations and a lack of new orders have forced firms to reduce their headcount, the association’s latest contractor survey shows. Association officials said more layoffs are likely for the industry amid spiking materials prices and uncertain demand for new projects.

“More contractors are telling us they are cutting headcount than adding workers, which is consistent with the new data showing the industry is shrinking in many parts of the country,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “More than three-fourth of the firms said projects had been postponed or canceled, while only one out of five reported winning new work or an add-on to an existing project in the previous two months as a result of the pandemic. That imbalance makes further job losses likely in many metros.”

Construction employment fell in 225, or 63%, of 358 metro areas between January 2020 and January 2021. Industry employment was stagnant in 41 additional metro areas, while only 92 metro areas—26%—added construction jobs.

Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, Texas lost the largest number of construction jobs over the 12-month period (-32,900 jobs, -14%), followed by New York City (-23,000 jobs, -15%); Midland, Texas (-11,100 jobs, -29%); and Chicago-Naperville-Arlington Heights, Ill. (-10,400 jobs, -9%). Lake Charles, La. had the largest percentage decline (-40%, -8,100 jobs), followed by Odessa, Texas (-37%, -7,600 jobs); Midland; and Laredo, Texas (-27%, -1,100 jobs).

Sacramento–Roseville–Arden-Arcade, Calif. added the most construction jobs over 12 months (3,500 jobs, 5%), followed by Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, Ind. (3,100 jobs, 6%); Boise, Idaho (2,500 jobs, 9%); and Seattle-Bellevue-Everett, Wash. (2,100 jobs, 2%). Sierra Vista-Douglas, Ariz. had the highest percentage increase (42%, 1,000 jobs), followed by Bay City, Mich. (18%, 200 jobs); and Auburn-Opelika, Ala. (15%, 400 jobs).

Association officials are urging Congress and the Biden administration to work together to address rising materials prices, supply chain backups and invest in infrastructure. They are asking the administration to end tariffs on key construction materials, including steel and lumber, work with shippers to get deliveries back on track and pass the significant new infrastructure investments the president has promised.

“The construction industry won’t be able to fully recover and start adding jobs in significant numbers as long as materials prices continue to spike, deliveries remain unreliable and demand remains uncertain,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “Federal officials can’t fix every problem, but they can help by removing tariffs, helping hard-hit shippers and boosting investments in the nation’s infrastructure.”

View the metro employment 12-month data, rankings, top 10, multi-division metros. View AGC’s survey.

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Construction employment slips in 225 metros from January 2020 to January 2021 – dmalone – 2021-03-22 14:44:44

Tutor Perini lined up for $478m LA metro project

The contract for the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority has an anticipated value of approximately US$478m (£343m).

The project scope of work includes construction of a new major transit station hub connecting the Metro Crenshaw/LAX and Green rail lines and a number of bus routes with the airport’s automated people mover.

Work is due to begin in the third quarter of this year, with substantial completion expected in the first quarter of 2025.  
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Tutor Perini lined up for $478m LA metro project – The Construction Index – 2021-03-17 09:41:00

Why ‘La Femme Anjola’ movie took five years to make – Rita Dominic

Nollywood star, Rita Dominic, has explained why the release of ‘La Femme Anjola,’ the buzzy crime thriller directed by Mildred Okwo and which she stars ,comes about five years after its production commenced.
The movie which stars, Nonso Bassey, in the lead role, will launch locally in theatres nationwide on March 19, 2021.
According to her, the movie was originally billed for release in 2020 but was postponed due to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.
‘‘With the funding secured in March 2019 from Lagos-based GTI Securities as well as other private investors we finished up production in time for a 2020 release only for the rollout to be interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic,’’ she said.
The 45-year-old actress revealed this during an interview with PREMIUM TIMES at the media screening of the movie on Thursday.
The movie was shot on a tight budget according to the producers who said the movie already had to wait at least five years for financial reasons.
“It was filmed for twenty-five days in Nigeria and went to South Africa for a week. It was difficult because we didn’t have that much money. I would have loved for us to have about eight weeks here in Nigeria and another two or three weeks in South Africa, but we didn’t have much money,” Okwo explained.
“Speaking about how she was able to play the challenging lead role and get in tune with the character, Ms. Dominic said she felt she needed to play the character since she read the script and she connected to the role.
“For me, when I read a script and the character scares me, that is inspiration right there. When I first read the script and I was getting to the end, I said to myself, what just happened here? I went back to the beginning and read it all the way to the end. I feel for every actor, we are all going to find that one role that we connect with and I did connect to that role and I felt that I needed to be a part of this project.
“During the production, you know planning is everything, with the help of the director we created a backstory for Anjola. Backstories help you a lot because it helps you understand who this person is, where she is coming from, how she looks, why she is this way, just basically everything you need to know. Backstories help in the interpretation of the role and that is it,” she said.
Commenting on Ms Dominic’s role on the project, the director of the movie, Ms Okwo, said she felt lucky to have her and other actors on the set because they made her directional role easy.
She said, “Rita scared me. If you say drop it, she just drops it, takes her close, and goes to sit in a corner and won’t talk to us which is sort of unusual because I thought I had to talk plenty but she said to me that I have been talking to her for five years. I always tell people that I try not to direct on set, even with all the other actors. I was very lucky with them, they prepared. But guess what, people will prepare for you when you give them the right tools.“As you can see, we put in a nice script, a good script, proper production setting, but we waited a while to get the money because we didn’t have the money initially. We waited almost four years and it was when we found the money that we started.”
Mental Health Challenges
The actress also revealed how she fell into depression while filming her new movie, ‘La Femme Anjola.’
‘‘I couldn’t sleep, I remember my assistant was saying that I couldn’t sleep at night, I would wake up with jolts, it was really depressing. I felt like Anjola,” she revealed.
Ms Dominic said she completely became her character, Anjola, who went through the harrowing consequences of getting entangled with a young male stockbroker and musician, played by Nonso Bassey, while still married to a wealthy gangster.
The director spoke further on how filming intense roles affected the actors mentally. She said the lead characters, Dominic and Bassey, got so engrossed in their roles that it affected their mood off of the set.

She said, “I remember the day that had to do the killing scene, she was so depressed and she would sit away from everybody. She wasn’t talking, she was sad. There was a scene when Nonso found his brother with his girl, he broke down, he started crying, he was into the character.
“That is what we hope to do with Nollywood, if you give people time, they will get into the character, so as a director, all I do is to guide them.”

She added that, unlike most directors, it is important to her how the actors fair mentally so she helped them unwind to feel better.
“Most directors don’t really care about the actors and these emotional things affect them. So what I did after we finished shooting was I flew them away and paid for extra time for them to at least detox because you must take that time. It is very important to me,” she said.
The 54-year-old director also revealed that ‘La Femme Anjola’ is an expensive movie and she is yet to figure out how much the movie costs, adding that she hopes the movie does well in the cinemas.
“Thank God for the pandemic, there are not too many Hollywood movies in our cinemas. I am hoping that people will come out and watch it, we don’t have too many Hollywood films competing. Apart from that, it is a great film.
“Regarding the money, the thing is that we are still spending. It is a very expensive film, I hope that in the coming weeks, I’ll be able to say how much because it is a lot of money,” she said.
La Femme Anjola
Written by Tunde Babalola, ‘La Femme Anjola’ is a psychological-thriller film noir that tells the story of a young man (Nonso Bassey), whose life followed a negative trajectory after he fell for a beauty queen, whom he cannot have.
The film, which is from the stables of ‘The Audrey Silva Company Limited,’ will be distributed by, Silverbird Distribution, the company which distributed their earlier releases – ‘The Meeting’ and ‘Surulere’.
The film was shot in locations in Lagos, Nigeria, and Cape Town (South Africa).

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Why ‘La Femme Anjola’ movie took five years to make – Rita Dominic – Jayne Augoye – 2021-03-18 17:17:32