Crossrail productivity ‘slowed’ by COVID-19 outbreaks

Productivity at Crossrail’s Bond Street station is expected to be affected by a spell of COVID-19 outbreaks last year, according to a progress report from consultant Jacobs.
The station has consistently lagged behind other stations on the project and, in June last year, the Costain/Skanska joint venture working on it agreed to leave the contract early due to disruption caused by coronavirus. At the time, a spokesman for the JV said the station was “uniquely affected by the COVID-19 crisis, due to the number of operatives required on site to complete the station”.
The progress report for mid-October to mid-November and released late last week, noted: “A recent spell of COVID-19 outbreaks is expected to affect productivity at Bond Street Station.”
It added that, at the time, workers across the wider project had been affected by coronavirus. It said: “The COVID-19 second wave is resulting in positive cases and self-isolation of resources across the programme, causing Crossrail to maintain a heightened state of awareness. Crossrail’s focus has been on ensuring the safety and resilience of nearly 400 key people and protecting crucial physical assets for continuing operations.”
In response, Crossrail said that the project is still expected to meet its expected timeline, which will see passenger services up and running in the first half of 2022.
The impact of workers contracting COVID-19 added to the pressure of an “under-resourced” and “over-stretched” workforce, according to Jacobs. It said there are still 133 job vacancies that had not been filled, although this was an “improved position” from the 150 vacancies it found a month earlier. Crossrail has paused the recruitment process through Transport for London (TfL) and has turned to its supply chain to try and fill the gap in technical and assurance roles.
As a result, Jacobs said there is now significant pressure to move onto trial running, and warned over the timescale of the next stage of testing on the project.
In response, Crossrail said its funding problems had contributed to the issues around its recruitment. It said: “Recruitment is working effectively […] however, it is important that funding for the remainder of the programme is available to provide clarity and certainty to individuals that the phase of the programme […] to which they are allocated, is funded. This needs to be approved and communicated as soon as possible in 2021 to ensure the correct resources are available and retained.”
Last week, the London Assembly’s budget and performance committee highlighted a £275m shortfall in the funding required to complete Crossrail. In its report, the committee pointed out that London’s transport commissioner Andy Byford promised in December there would be “no further delays or further call on public funds” on the basis it was granted £1.1bn. So far, £845m has been secured, but the mayor himself has acknowledged that after this sum there is “nowhere else to go” and that “the government would need to step in”.

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Crossrail productivity ‘slowed’ by COVID-19 outbreaks – Megan Kelly – 2021-01-25 14:57:24

Architecture Billings continue to lose ground

Demand for design services from U.S. architecture firms took a pointed dip last month, according to a new report from the American Institute of Architects (AIA).

The pace of decline during December accelerated from November, posting an Architecture Billings Index (ABI) score of 42.6 from 46.3 (any score below 50 indicates a decline in firm billings). Meanwhile, the pace of growth of inquiries into new projects remained flat from November to December with a score of 52.4, though the value of new design contracts stayed in negative territory with a score of 48.5.

“Since the national economic recovery appears to have stalled, architecture firms are entering 2021 facing a continued sluggish design market,” said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon. AIA.  “However, the recently passed federal stimulus funding should help shore up the economy in the short-term, and hopefully by later this year there should be relief as COVID vaccinations become more widespread. Recent project inquiries from prospective and former clients have been positive, suggesting that new work may begin picking up as we move into the spring and summer months.”

Key ABI highlights for December include:

•    Regional averages: South (46.8); Midwest (43.6); West (43.4); Northeast (38.8) •    Sector index breakdown: mixed practice (48.0); commercial/industrial (47.2); multi-family residential (46.1); institutional (38.5)•    Project inquiries index: 52.4•    Design contracts index: 48.5

The regional and sector categories are calculated as a three-month moving average, whereas the national index, design contracts and inquiries are monthly numbers.

Visit AIA’s website for more ABI information.

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Architecture Billings continue to lose ground – dmalone – 2021-01-19 21:12:58

Colmore Tang targets cladding remediation

Colmore Tang chief operating officer Steve UnderwoodThe Birmingham-based contractor is targeting building owners, managing agents and surveyors seeking to replace cladding.

Colmore Tang has already built several tower blocks since it was launched in 2013, delivering more than 3,500 residential units and a 253-bedroom hotel, as well as 180,000 sq ft of retail space.

The issue of how widely flammable cladding systems have been used across the UK came to light after the Grenfell Tower fire in London in 2017. With liability not always easy to establish and many buildings owned by opaque overseas trusts, progress in replacing dangerous cladding has been slow over the past three years.

It is estimated that there are around 2,000 residential buildings that are still enveloped in high-risk, combustible cladding. The UK government launched a £1bn Building Safety Fund in May 2020 to help building owners with the replacement of unsafe cladding. Colmore Tang wants a slice of it.

Colmore Tang said that it would use its subcontractors and suppliers to offer ‘the full remediation process from initial fire assessment and design, to project management, tax advice and delivery’. It also offers clients a latent defects warranty.

Chief operating officer Steve Underwood said: “Nobody should have to live in an unsafe building. Through conversations we have had with building owners, managing agents and even cladding manufacturers, it’s clear that the complexities in cladding remediation are slowing down the ability to get this vital work done. The government’s target is also mounting pressure on building owners, who are being encouraged to complete all works before mandatory new legislation is introduced.

“Lots of specialist contractors don’t operate at the scale required to fulfil many of these projects, leaving clients struggling to engage with consultants when looking for a solution. That’s why we’re doing what we know best – tall, high-density residential buildings. We’re bringing together the moving parts to create a single cohesive product. Furthermore, we provide a fully-auditable digital record of the whole process ensuring that the ‘golden thread’ – as described in Dame Judith Hackett’s Grenfell recommendations – is delivered along with a comprehensively-insured end product.”
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Colmore Tang targets cladding remediation – The Construction Index – 2021-01-14 08:07:00

16 firms revealed on £80m London demolition framework

16 firms have been appointed on an £80m London demolition framework.
The framework procured by London housing association Central and Cecil Housing Trust covers demolition, site preparation and clearance work.
The trust had initially expected to appoint 10 firms to the framework but, out of 17 bidders, 16 firms have been appointed to the framework. They are:
DDS Demolition
Erith Contractors
Squibb Group
777 Demolition and Haulage
R Collard
Clifford Devlin
AR Demolition
Frank O’Dara and Sons
O’Keefe Demolition
Goody Demolition
Deconstruct UK
Bath Demolition
Evolution Enabling Services
The Coleman Group
Places were awarded with a 60 per cent weighting for quality of bids with price being 40 per cent. The framework is set to run for four years and will be available for use by all public sector bodies throughout the UK.
Construction News’s Specialists Index 2020 revealed demolition contractors had suffered the steepest drop in median pre-tax margins, as profit failed to keep up with a big jump in revenue. The sector expects demand in the London commercial market to drop off in 2021, but forecasts jobs in the infrastructure realm will step up.

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16 firms revealed on £80m London demolition framework – David Price – 2021-01-13 14:23:14

Tunde Ayeni Accuses Okunbo of Stealing, Criminal Diversion of Millions of Dollars

OMS: He is a Meddlesome Interloper Seeking to Blackmail Okunbo for Financial Benefit
Tobi Soniyi
A former chairman of the defunct Skye Bank (now Polaris Bank), Mr Tunde Ayeni, has dragged his business partner, Captain Hosa Okunbo, to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for alleged mismanagement, stealing and diversion of funds from their company – Ocean Marine Security Limited. In the petition written by his counsel, Mr Femi Fálànà (SAN), Ayeni gave a vivid account of how Okunbo tried to scheme him out of the company.

Ayeni said he had since discovered “a lot of stealing and diversion as well as gross mismanagement of large sums of money belonging to the company.”
However, in a swift reaction to the multitude of allegations against Okunbo and OMS, via press statement obtained by THISDAY yesterday night, the Management of OMS categorically stated that Dr Ayeni was no longer a part of either OMS or its associated companies as he resigned since in 2018 after selling all his shares. The press state reads in part: “The attention of the Board of Ocean Marine Solutions Limited (OMS) has been drawn to several petitions written to various Government Agencies and widely circulated online, written, authored and orchestrated by Dr. Olatunde John Ayeni, a former Director and shareholder of OMS.”
The statement went on to describe Ayeni as “a meddlesome interloper seeking to blackmail Okunbo at this time of his ill-heath for Financial Benefit.”On his part, businessman and politician, Prince Ned Nwoko, has dismissed allegations in the Tunde Ayeni’s petition, that he (Nwoko) received the sum of $6,000,000 (Six Million Dollars) from him and Captain Idahosa Okunbo, in a business deal with Ocean Marine Solutions (OMS) Limited, over which he allegedly promised to pay the company the sum of $30,000,000 (Thirty Million Dollars).
Mr. Ayeni’s petitioner alleged that sometime in 2007, himself, Okunbo, Joe Aikhomu, represented by his father, Admiral Augustus Aikhomu, and Gareth Dooley came together to form a company called Ocean Marine Security Limited. He said the company later changed its name to Ocean Marine Solutions Limited.According to him, Okunbo holds 46 per cent shares in the company, he, Ayeni, holds 35 per cent, Dooley holds 14 per cent, while Aikhomu held five per cent.
Ayeni said himself and Okunbo acquired Aikhomu’s shares after his demise. After his death, Aikhomu, who was the founding chairman, was replaced by Okunbo as chairman.
Ayeni said the company incorporated four other subsidiaries and invested in Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company as well as Yola Electricity Distribution Company.
Trouble started when in 2016 the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) took over Skye Bank Plc, now Polaris Bank Limited. Following the take over, the new management of the bank wrote a petition against the management of the bank under Ayeni.
Charges were filed against him at both at the Federal High Court and the Federal Capital Territory High Court in Abuja.In the petition Falana stated, “Our client became very distracted from the day to day operations of the company because of an almost daily requirement of his presence at either the EFCC, the offices of his lawyers and the courts.
“During this period, the company had a payment challenge from the CBN as it also works for the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and its subsidiary NPDC as a result of which some of the payments are denominated in United States Dollars and as such the payments come through the CBN.”
Ayeni said Okunbo attributed difficulties in the payment of the invoices to his (Ayeni’s) prosecution by the EFCC.
In order to shield the company from the effect of his prosecution, Ayeni said Okunbo persuaded him to step aside from the company and its subsidiaries and handover to him to enable him protect income sources of the company.Ayeni said he agreed to the suggestion because he trusted Okunbo, only for the latter to turn around and say Ayeni’s shares had been sold tThe petitioner alleged that at no time did he discuss the actual sale of his interest in the company or any of its subsidiaries or affiliates with Okunbo. He said he no longer received emails and briefings from the company in respect of the businesses and finances but continued to receive his monthly allowances of $350,000 and $25,000 for his wife.However, Ayeni alleged that the allowances were stopped in September 2020 because of irreconcilable differences bordering on financial impropriety by Okunbo. the petition said.
When our client confronted Okunbo he had no defence whatsoever but claimed that he had bought our client out of the company and he cannot complain.”Ayeni also narrated how Okunbo introduced one Mr Nedd Nwoko to the company.
Nwoko said he had a contract with the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON) in respect of the Paris Club refund and that his fee was 20 per cent, Ayeni alleged.He said Nwoko asked the company to fund the transaction process for him, which he put at $5 million, and proposed to pay the company at success the sum of $30 million.
Ayeni said Okunbo funded Nwoko at various times to the tune of $6million.He said, “Captain Okunbo claimed that only $4.5 million was paid which was less than the money given to Nedd Nwoko because the Nigeria Governors’ Forum reduced his payment and he could not afford the commitment.“Captain Okunbo suggested to our client to accept the money to reduce the pressure from AMCON, which he obliged, as this was the practice in the company – any particular director in need is sometimes advanced sums of money ahead of others.”
Falana further stated in the petition, “Captain Okunbo now claimed that our client is no longer entitled to any share in the company’s revenues because of the N1 billion (utilised in initially settling the EFCC on his behalf) which was part of the $4.5 million paid through him to our client by Nedd Nwoko, which was tied to the agreement our client signed with him to avoid EFCC from closing down the account.”
He explained, “Sometimes in July 2020, one of our client’s partners told him of a discrepancy which had been noticed in the accounting records leading to an unauthorised withdrawal of $10 million and $8 million, respectively.
“Capt. Hosa Okunbo had claimed to them that he had spent the sum to settle a Senate hearing on one of the subsidiary companies, the Secured Anchorage Area (SAA), and that $8 million was spent in the Presidency on the same issue because of the dispute between him and the Ministry of Transport/Nigerian Ports Authority, which our client considers to be unreasonable because the total annual profit achieved on the SAA was about $5 million.
“You will agree with our client that the claim that Capt. Hosa Okunbo spent $18 million on influence peddling without discussing it with our client amounts to diversion as it makes no sense at all. More so, that the story of the amount he claimed to have spent has continued to change by the day from $1 million to $2 million to $4 million to $6 million until he made them to input the records $10 million for the Senate hearing and $8 million for the Presidency.”
Infractions Ayeni accused Okunbo of included moving the company’s accounts from Polaris Bank to Stanbic IBTC and abandoning the loan repayment comment by the company to the consortium of banks that funded the acquisition of Yola and Ibadan Discos.He said, “The loan as at today is about $100 million and no single repayment of interest and principal has been made into the account for over one year and a half.
“Captain Okunbo was a director of the Board of IBEDC until a few months ago when he resigned and replaced himself with his younger brother, Mr. Kingsley Okunbo, but he refused to pay the money meant for the acquisition of the company but he rather has been stealing it and diverting same to his personal use and to fund his political activities in just concluded Edo State governorship election.”
Ayeni also alleged that Okunbo inflated the cost of making a movie on oil spill in the Niger Delta from $7 million to $30 million.
The petition read, “Diversion of the loan of N500m to Gen. Boro the then coordinator of the Niger Delta Amnesty programme. Our client was informed that the money was subsequently repaid to the company through Captain Okunbo and two vehicles were recovered by him. He took possession of it and never paid back to the company.“Captain Okunbo borrowed $2 million from the company and took it to Liberia to fund the current Liberian president’s election. He has refused to pay back to the company.
“Unauthorised sale of the company’s Challenger Aircraft for the sum of $5.5 million and diversion of the money to his personal farm in Benin, which he has refused to pay back to the company.“Captain Okunbo borrowed $1 million from the company account which he refused to pay back to the company.
“The company through Captain Okunbo made available the sum of $5 million to Dr John Abebe for a five per cent share in an oil block with Star Oil. He has refused to provide details of the document of the investment.
“Captain Okunbo has illegally taken unauthorised amounts of money from the company account to fund the just concluded Edo State election without our client’s consent. From preliminary information our client has been informed that he spent about $18 million in this process, as a result of which our client requested a forensic audit of the accounts of the company and the subsidiaries, which Capt. Okunbo had taken full control of.”
Excerpts of OMS Press Statement in Response to Ayeni’s Petition
“The Board of Directors of OMS with a view to setting the records straight and to prevent Government Agencies, Clients of OMS and the general public from been misled by the false stories hereby states as follows:1. That Dr. Olatunde John Ayeni is no longer a Director of OMS and any of its Associated Companies having resigned from OMS since August 2018.
2. That Dr. Olatunde John Ayeni is no longer a shareholder of OMS and its Associated Companies having sold and transferred all his shares and interests to Wells Property Development Company Limited for valuable consideration since 2018.
3. That Dr. Olatunde John Ayeni has not been involved and connected in the management of OMS since 2018 when he resigned from the Board and sold his shares.
4. That Dr. Olatunde John Ayeni became aware in September, 2020 that the Chairman of OMS Capt. (Dr.) Idahosa Wells Okunbo had health issues and was undergoing treatment in London and has since that time started making false claims that he is still a part of OMS.
5. That the Board of OMS has implicit and unshaken confidence in all the steps taken by Capt. (Dr.) Idahosa Wells Okunbo in managing the affairs of the company and the lofty heights to which he has taken the company.
6. The Board commends and appreciates Capt. (Dr.) Idahosa Wells Okunbo for his selfless and personal efforts in managing the affairs of the company and the use of his personal resources in meeting operational financial shortfall in the company.
7. The company states unequivocally that its accounts are in good and correct order and its funds are intact and not missing, misappropriated or otherwise mismanaged.
8. The Board has passed a vote of confidence on Capt. (Dr.) Idahosa Okunbo.9. Dr. Olatunde John Ayeni is a meddlesome interloper who is seeking to blackmail Capt. (Dr.) Idahosa Wells Okunbo at this time of his ill-health for financial benefit.
10. Dr. Olatunde John Ayeni has no interest whatsoever in OMS and its affairs and is hereby advised to steer clear from OMS and its Associated Companies.”
Ned Nwoko Fires Back at Ayeni
In a letter addressed to the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, Nwoko put a lie to Ayeni’s claim, stating that at no point in time “have I had any dealings with Ayeni or Ocean Marine Solutions in whatever capacity.”Describing Ayeni’s assertion as “a malicious statement devoid of truth”, Nwoko expressly stated he has “never received any sum from Ayeni which he purported in his petition and has never played any role whatsoever as it relates to this transaction.”
“All transactions on the subject matter were done directly with Capt. (Dr.) Idahosa Wells Okunbo in his personal capacity to the exclusion of any other party including Ocean Marine Solutions Limited. To suggest otherwise as contained in the said petition is merely a malicious statement devoid of truth.”
Nwoko urged the IGP to yield no credence to the contents of Ayeni’s petition, as he had no clue “as to the nature or extent of my involvement with ALGON,” as he further clarified that that he only met Tunde Ayeni “in connection with ALGONS contract for the supply of Ambulances which were to be funded from the Paris Club refunds (5% of the judgement sum) and this project is still pending for all that I know.”“I am not aware of any payments in connection with this project,” Nwoko stated.
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Tunde Ayeni Accuses Okunbo of Stealing, Criminal Diversion of Millions of Dollars – editor – 2021-01-10 04:22:47

Workers on some of Virginia’s major construction projects sue subcontractors for wage theft

Laborers who worked on some of Virginia’s major construction projects in recent years have sued subcontractors that employed them, charging wage theft in two federal lawsuits.

The suits assert that workers were not paid overtime after being intentionally misclassified as independent contractors instead of employees. The legal premise for one suit cites the employer’s relationship with the workers that includes setting schedules, providing direct and indirect worksite supervision, setting or influencing worker’s rates of pay, and “maintaining, as a practical matter, the power to fire or demote workers.”

One court filing says that according to state law, an individual who performs services for money is presumed to be an employee of the person who pays them, unless they are classified as an independent contractor under guidelines from the Internal Revenue Service.

One of the attorneys representing workers told a Virginia television station that worker misclassification is extraordinarily widespread in the construction industry. Plaintiffs’ lawyers are seeking unpaid wages, employment benefits, funds for attorney fees, and two times the amount of unpaid wages as damages.

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Workers on some of Virginia’s major construction projects sue subcontractors for wage theft – dmalone – 2021-01-07 15:44:23

AfDB appoints directors-general, deputy directors-general in regional offices

The African Development Bank Group has announced the appointment of directors-general for the East, Central and Southern Africa regions and deputy general for the East, Central, Northern, Southern and West Africa regions.
Serge N’Guessan, Director General, Central Africa RegionAs Director-General, Central Africa, Mr N’Guessan will drive and ensure the operational efficiency, effectiveness and overall health of the Bank’s portfolio across the Central Africa Region. He will also spearhead regional business development and investment, driving resource mobilization across the countries under his remit and growing the business of the Bank significantly.
Mr N’Guessan, a Canadian citizen, is a professional with over 30 years of experience in international development and portfolio management, who has held important representation roles within the Bank for almost 10 years.
He has been the Deputy Director-General, West Africa, since September 2018, where he built an effective and motivated team, working in the spirit of ¨One Bank¨ and improved the work processes in the Regional Office. Serge has been instrumental over the last 10 years in enhancing policy dialogue, socio-economic reforms, resource mobilization and co-financing capacity, and aid coordination and effectiveness by strengthening the Bank’s collaboration with its technical and financial partners and with the private sector. Serge held the position of Country Manager, Senegal Country Office, from October 2017 to August 2018. He was previously Resident Representative for the Bank’s Office in Togo as of October 2011. He successfully opened, in January 2012, the first Country Office in Togo, a Fragile State, and he managed the operational functions of the Bank in Togo and, since 2013, in Benin.
Mr N’Guessan joined the Bank in 2000 as Senior Architect/Implementation Specialist, in the Human Development Department. He was subsequently assigned to the Governance and Financial Management Department, where he held the positions of Principal Procurement Specialist prior to his appointment as Chief Governance Specialist in 2008.
Before joining the Bank, he managed the International Projects Division of OMIRA Inc., a Canadian Company (1996-2000). Between 1992 and 1996, he was Chief Project Manager of Dirigo Land & Livestock, an American Company based in Denver, Colorado.
Commenting on his appointment, Mr N’Guessan said: “I am very pleased to be able to lead the Bank’s teams and activities in Central Africa (Cameroon, CAR, Congo, DRC, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon,) to accelerate the implementation of the High 5 and President Adesina’s vision reiterated for his second mandate to effectively transform the lives of people in this region in a positive and sustainable way for the development of Africa.”
He holds a Ph.D. in Regional and Urban Planning from the Université de Montréal (Canada), a Master of Architecture from the University of Colorado, of Denver (USA), as well as a Diplôme d’Ingénieur de Génie Civil from École Nationale Supérieure des Travaux Publics of Yamoussoukro (Côte d’Ivoire).
Commenting on the appointment, President Adesina said: “Serge is a seasoned professional with a solid track record. His hands-on experience and his capacity to deliver will be an asset in supporting transformation and integration in the region.”
Nnenna Lily Nwabufo, Director General, East Africa RegionAs Director-General, East Africa, Ms Nwabufo will be responsible for leading and advancing the Bank Group’s strategic objective of achieving significant and transformational developmental impact in thirteen countries in East Africa by ensuring operational efficiency, effectiveness and an overall healthy portfolio in the region. Specifically, she will lead high-level dialogues at country and regional levels and across Bank sector complexes as well as oversee the full implementation and integration of all aspects of the Bank’s work in the region. She will also spearhead regional business development and investment, and foster resource mobilization efforts across the countries in the region to ensure focused growth of the Bank’s sovereign and non-sovereign operations.
A Nigerian citizen, Ms Nwabufo is a versatile and seasoned executive with over 30 years’ professional experience in treasury and financial management, budget programming, planning and performance management, human resource and corporate services management, and country/regional operations.
She joined the Bank’s Treasury Department in 1991 where she worked at different professional levels for over a decade. Subsequently, she took on progressive management level responsibilities including, Manager in the General Services and Procurement Department from March 2007, Director of Programming and Budget Department in January 2013, Acting Director, Human Resource Management Department and Acting Vice President for Corporate Services from May 2015 to May 2016. She was on a special assignment to lead the Bank’s Annual Meetings preparation team from June 2016 until her appointment as Deputy Director-General, East Africa Regional Development and Business Delivery Office in January 2017. She was appointed the Acting Director-General for the region effective 1st October 2019.Before joining the African Development Bank in August 1991, Ms Nwabufo worked as a Treasury Management Expert in two merchant banks in Nigeria rising to become the Treasury Manager of one of them.
Commenting on her appointment, she said: “I am very pleased to be appointed by President Adesina as the Director-General for the Bank’s East Africa Regional Development and Business Delivery Office and to support his vision for the continent. I have no doubt that working together with all internal and external stakeholders, we can make a difference and bring much-needed development to East African citizens.”
Ms Nwabufo holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics from the University of Lagos, Nigeria and a Master of Business Administration from Henley Management College, Henley on Thames, United Kingdom.
Commenting on the appointment, Mr Adesina said: “I am delighted to appoint Nnenna as the Director-General for East Africa. Her vast experience and solid track-record in strategic functions across the Bank attest to her capacity to effectively lead the team to rise up to the development challenges and ensure continued development impact to improve the lives of Africans in the East Africa region.”
Leïla Farah Mokadem, Director General, Southern Africa RegionAs Director-General, Southern Africa, Ms Mokadem will drive high-level dialogue and Bank’s operations, ensuring the Bank operates efficiently, effectively and successfully in the relevant countries, within the region. She will lead and monitor adaptation to specific requirements of individual countries/operations with greater efficiency, cost-effectiveness and value addition in the use of resources, with downstream gains for Regional Member Countries, and the private sector in the Southern Africa Region.

Ms Mokadem, a Tunisian national, is a seasoned professional in International Finance. She has over 25 years of experience with multilateral development banks and international institutions.
She joined the Bank in September 2002 and was appointed as Country Manager for Morocco in 2017. Prior to this appointment, she was the Resident Representative of the Bank in Egypt from 2014 to 2017 and Regional Resident Representative from February 2010 to December 2013, based in Dakar, Senegal. In these capacities, she successfully led the Bank’s strategic engagements and partnerships as well as high-level dialogue and operations.

Prior to her assignments in country offices, Ms Mokadem held the position of Manager, Financial Institutions Division in the Bank’s Private Sector Department at Headquarters, where she designed innovative financial solutions for Africa, including the African SME Guarantee Fund, AfDB Trade Finance Initiative and the Women in Business Initiative. Leila managed multibillion investment portfolios in over 35 African countries, particularly in the private, infrastructure and financial services sectors. Leila also served as Board member at the Ouest African Development Bank (BOAD) and Advans Holding (Microfinance). She is currently serving as alternate Board member of the Afreximbank.
Before joining the Bank, she was long-term fiscal advisor to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) from August 1996 to December 1999. She started her career at the Ministry of Economy in Tunisia.
Commenting on her appointment, Ms Mokadem said: “It’s a great opportunity to work under the leadership of President Adesina, supporting his vision and the implementation of Africa’s development agenda while strengthening the Bank’s engagement in the Southern Africa Region.”
She holds a Diploma in Finance from the Institut des Hautes Etudes Commerciales (HEC) of Carthage, Tunisia and a master’s degree in International Trade from the Institute of High-level Management (Institut Supérieur de Gestion), Tunisia.
Commenting on the appointment, Mr Adesina said: “For my second term as President of the African Development Bank, I have prioritized the support, stabilization and strengthening of African economies to get back on a stronger pathway of economic growth and resilience. Leila will support my vision and drive to build a stronger development impact of Bank’s operations and advisory support in Southern Africa Region. She is a highly respected professional, with a solid track record in leading Bank’s strategic engagements in our Regional Members Countries.”
Solomane Koné, Deputy Director-General, Central Africa RegionMr Kone, a national of Côte d’Ivoire, has been Acting Director-General for the Central Africa Region since January 2020, as well as Country Manager for the African Development Bank’s Office in Cameroon. In these capacities, he was involved in high-level strategic country and regional dialogue with different stakeholders, governments, and other development partners, including co-financing arrangements and donor coordination particularly in the context of the Regional Economic and Financial Reform Program of the Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa (PREF-CEMAC). He helped to grow the Bank’s business and supervise the performance of the portfolio in Cameroon, which is the largest in Central Africa (35 operations for about USD 3.1 billion).
Mr Kone joined the Bank in January 2003 as a Country Economist in the Central Africa Region, before moving to the West Africa Region and the Governance Department. He later on held several senior and managerial positions such as Lead Economist for the Regional Department East 2, from November 2009 – July 2012, Acting Regional Director for OREB from July 2012 – October 2013, Advisor to the Vice-President Country and Regional Programs (ORVP) and Regional Development, Integration and Business Delivery (RDVP) from November 2013 – September 2017.
Prior to joining the Bank, he had accumulated more than 10 years of relevant research, strategic and policy analysis experience as a lead consultant, researcher and policy analyst in various academic, national and international institutions, including Cornell University Food and Nutrition Policy Program, the Ivorian Center for Economic and Social Research, the ILO, the OECD Development Centre, and the Central Bank of West African States (BCEAO), where he was instrumental in developing forecasting, simulation and econometric models to guide macroeconomic and monetary policy and regional programs in the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU). He authored and co-authored numerous publications and reports on regional development, industrial policy, the impact of fiscal and monetary policy, the adequate level of foreign reserves, as well as poverty analysis using Social Accounting Matrix. He has also taught high-level macroeconomic policies, econometrics and quantitative methods at West African Center for Banking and Financial Studies of BCEAO and Cornell University.
Commenting on his appointment, Mr Kone said: “I am honored by this mark of confidence from President Adesina. I am determined to help provide the necessary leadership on the ground for the delivery of his vision and ambition at this critical time for our economies.”

He holds a master’s degree in regional planning and a PhD in Development Economics and Planning from Cornell University in the United States, obtained in 1990 and 1993 respectively.
Commenting on the appointment, President Adesina said: “Solomane is a seasoned economist and well-respected professional, with a deep knowledge and experience in developing and managing regional and country strategies and operations. His experience as Country Manager and his track record in building partnerships and providing leadership will be critical in the transformation agenda of the Bank in the region.”
Abdul B. Kamara, Deputy Director-General, East Africa RegionMr Kamara, a citizen of Sierra Leone, is currently the African Development Bank Group’s Country Manager for the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia.
Mr Kamara is a development economist with over two decades of experience in development policy research, development financing and policy work on Africa’s economic transformation and development. He has worked as a joint Research Associate of the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) in Washington DC and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) in Addis Ababa (1997–1999), and as Assistant Professor at the University of Göttingen, Germany (1999–2000).
He joined the Bank in 2004 and has served as Senior Agricultural Economist (2004–2007); as Manager of the Research Division (2007–2010), and for seven years as Resident Representative for Sudan (2011–2017) where he was also responsible for South Sudan until 2013. He was Assistant Secretary-General at the United Nations for one year (2014–2015), serving as Deputy Joint Special Representative of the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in charge of the Darfur Mission. In 2017, President Adesina appointed him as Country Manager for Ethiopia, where he currently manages the Bank’s USD1.63 billion portfolio.
Commenting on his appointment, he said: “I am delighted to take this responsibility, entrusted in me by President Adesina, to serve as Deputy Director-General in a region I am very versed with, having served the Bank effectively for the past 10 years in this region.”
Mr Kamara holds a Bachelor of Science (Vordiplom) in Agriculture General and an MSc (cum laude) in Agricultural Economics, both from the University of Hohenheim in Stuttgart, Germany, and an award-winning PhD (cum laude) in Agricultural and Development Economics from the University of Göttingen in Germany.
Commenting on the appointment, President Adesina said: “Abdul is a well-rounded professional with valuable policy, research and operational experiences suitable for this role. His in-depth knowledge of the region and solid track record of superior field-level delivery and excellent managerial skills will help the Bank accelerate delivery on its vision and mandate in East Africa.”
Malinne Blomberg, Deputy Director-General, North Africa RegionMs Blomberg, a Swedish citizen, is a seasoned finance professional with solid experience in developing strategies, providing advisory services, and executing operations for results in both the public and private sectors.
She has over 15 years of experience in development finance, gained largely from serving the Bank since 2008 when she joined the Water and Sanitation Department as Financial Management Specialist and later was in charge of its Division covering West and Central Africa. In-between she also worked in the Agriculture and Agribusiness Department, focusing on climate finance. She brings extensive hands-on experience from working across the continent including fragile states, in terms of business development and dialogue, resources mobilization, identifying and structuring innovative investment projects and other initiatives, as well as promoting private sector participation with a focus on infrastructure sectors.
She is currently the Bank’s Country Manager for Egypt, where she has been leading the Bank’s operations since 2017.
Before joining the Bank, Ms Blomberg worked for Arthur Andersen Business Consulting in the UK and on assignments in other financial hubs of the world as Manager in the Financial Services Industry up to 2001. From 2003 to 2007, she served as Financial and Institutional Advisor in the Government of Uganda, in the Ministry of Water and Environment, supporting national efforts to strengthen institutional effectiveness and fund utilization, and managing the ministry’s multi-donor trust funds.
Commenting on her appointment, she said: “I am very grateful for this expanded mandate that allows me to deepen the Bank’s partnership with its clients and expand operations across North Africa – a region with tremendous opportunities that is undergoing fast-paced transformation.”
She holds an MBA from IMD in Lausanne, Switzerland and an MSc in Economic and International Business from University of Linköping, Sweden.
Commenting on the appointment, Mr Adesina said: “During my second term as President of the African Development Bank, I will continue to strengthen the Bank’s delivery on the ground, and to accelerate the socio-economic transformation of our continent. Malinne brings the drive and experience from both the public and private sectors, needed to bring together various stakeholders to scale up our impact in North Africa. She is a highly respected professional, with a solid track record in development finance.”
Kennedy K. Mbekeani, Deputy Director-General, Southern Africa RegionMr Mbekeani, a Malawian citizen, is a seasoned development economist with over 20 years of senior level country and regional experience in development finance, project management, policy advisory services, and knowledge generation.
He joined the Bank in 2009 as Chief Trade and Regional Integration Officer. He provided leadership in formulating the Bank’s trade assistance strategy to regional economic communities and on policy research on international trade, economic integration and development.
He was Lead Regional Economist (2012-2014) at the South African Resource Centre. He later served as Officer in Charge and Acting Regional Director of the Bank’s South African Resource Centre in South Africa (2014-2016) where he led the largest syndicated A/B Loan arranged in Africa to-date. He was appointed Officer in Charge of the African Development Bank’s Ghana Country Office in February 2017. In September 2017, African Development Bank President, Akinwumi A. Adesina, appointed him as Country Manager, Uganda Country Office where he grew the portfolio to over USD 2 billion.
Before joining the Bank, Mr Mbekeani worked for the UNDP as a Trade, Debt and Globalisation Advisor for East and Southern Africa. Prior to that he worked as a Senior Research Fellow at the Botswana Institute for Development Policy Analysis, and as Senior Economist at the National Institute for Economic Policy in South Africa.
Commenting on his appointment, he said: “I am pleased to work with President Adesina to support execution of his vision for the Bank and the continent and accelerate delivery on the High 5s”.
Mr Mbekeani holds a Bachelor of Social Science degree from the University of Malawi, MPhil (Monetary Economics) from the University of Glasgow, MA and a PhD in International Economics from the University of California. He has published on trade, regional integration, and infrastructure development in Africa.
Commenting on the appointment, Mr Adesina said: “Kennedy is a rounded professional, with broad experience in international development. His capacity to deliver in various areas will help to build strong partnerships in the region and to promote both private and public sectors operations.”
Joseph Martial Ribeiro, Deputy Director-General, West Africa RegionA Cape Verdean national, Joseph Martial Ribeiro is currently Manager of the African Development Bank Group for the Angola Country Office, which also covers Sao Tome and Principe.
Mr Ribeiro is an experienced international development practitioner with in-depth knowledge of the key issues of decentralisation, privatisation and public-private partnerships. He is a seasoned professional in the evaluation and management of development projects.
Prior to joining the AfDB, he worked as a consulting engineer, particularly in the areas of water and sanitation, and has extensive experience in university education in Canada and Senegal, as well as solid experience in academic and industrial research. He joined the Bank in 2000 and has served as Senior Irrigation Specialist (2000-2005), Procurement Specialist (2005-2009), Representative for Angola (2009-2011), Resident Representative for Mozambique (2011-2017) and Country Manager for Angola and Sao Tome and Principe (2017-Present).
Commenting on his appointment, Mr Ribeiro said: “I am very honoured by the trust that President Adesina has placed in me through this prestigious appointment. I am delighted to take on this responsibility as Deputy Director-General in the West Africa Region, which affords numerous opportunities to deliver the High 5s sustainably and effectively.”
He holds a PhD in Hydrology from the École Polytechnique de Montréal (Canada), an MBA from the University of Cumbria (UK), a degree in Political Science from the University of London, School of Oriental and African Studies (UK) and a Design Engineering Certificate in Civil Engineering from the École Polytechnique de Thiès (Senegal).
Commenting on the appointment, President Adesina said: “Joseph has successfully represented the Bank in three Portuguese-speaking regional member countries, in addition to being an accomplished professional with strong political acumen and managerial skills. His experience in the field and his in-depth knowledge of public development projects and public-private partnerships will greatly contribute to the success of the Bank’s operations in West Africa.”

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AfDB appoints directors-general, deputy directors-general in regional offices – Premium Times – 2021-01-07 12:24:33

SEC Group wound up

Rudi KleinSEC Group is an umbrella representative body comprising British Constructional Steelwork Association, Building Engineering Services Association, Electrical Contractors Association, Lift & Escalator Industry Association, Electrical Contractors Association of Scotland, Scottish & Northern Ireland Plumbing Employers’ Federation and the Scaffolding Association.

A new engineering services sector alliance is being set up to replace it, with a wider focus. While much of SEC Group’s focus has been on supply chain issues and the treatment of subcontractors, the replacement body will encompass sustainability, skills and building safety.

The engineering services member bodies of SEC Group are working with other organisations to set up the new UK engineering services sector alliance, to launch in early 2021. The new alliance, which will include contracting businesses and professionals from across the engineering services sector, will aim to work closely with industry bodies and initiatives across all four nations of the UK.

News of the closure of the SEC Group comes just a month after long-serving chief executive Rudi Klein announced his retirement from the organisation. [See previous report here.] SEC Group board chairman Trevor Hursthouse has also stepped down from his role.

Speaking on behalf of SEC Group members, Steve Bratt, chief executive of the ECA, said “We would like to express our gratitude to the highly effective SEC Group team for their remarkable contribution to our sector and to the wider industry. Initiatives driven by SEC Group and industry partners over many years have significantly improved the commercial landscape for the construction supply chain.”

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SEC Group wound up – The Construction Index – 2021-01-04 07:51:00

Laing O’Rourke CFO: Whitehall ‘gets’ our offsite edge

Laing O’Rourke’s relationship with the government has been enhanced because Whitehall “understands” its offsite capabilities give it a competitive advantage, the contractor’s chief financial officer has claimed.
The company, which was officially recognised as a government strategic supplier this week, has invested more than £100m in its Design for Manufacturing and Assembly (DfMA) offsite approach over the past 11 years. CFO Rowan Baker (pictued) told Construction News this was paying dividends in the public sector. “This [offsite capability] is coming to the forefront and indeed is well understood by government as to the kind of competitive edge that we have, and the differentiation that we have, and that’s probably part of the reason that we are on that strategic supplier list,” she said.
The contractor’s designation as a strategic supplier earlier this week means it will now get a crown representative to manage all work between the government and the firm, acting as a single point of contact.
In the government’s recently published Construction Playbook, modern methods of construction were cited as an increasingly important element of public sector procurement in the coming years. Combined with an expected increase in government construction projects, Baker said the company was well placed to benefit. “It will depend on exactly where we end up in terms of the work winning, but schools and hospitals, they really lend themselves to being produced there [offsite],” she said.
Laing O’Rourke is now supplying other contractors from its offsite facility, the CFO confirmed. CN revealed last year that the company was planning the move. Baker could not confirm the value of work the factory has done for other firms, and emphasised the priority of the facility was to fulfil O’Rourke’s needs on its own projects. “Primarily we would want to use it for the step up in our own activity if that is what is required, for example, by government contracts,” she said.
In 2019 the company revealed £35m of revenue was generated from work at the facility in Steetley, Nottinghamshire. The company has not revealed the equivalent value for 2020 and Baker said it was hard to break out as a standalone item. “It isn’t really thought of as being a separate standalone item, it is part of what we do,” she said. Baker added that the firm’s DfMA offering was now part of “almost every bid that we put in”.
MMC and offsite construction of the type Laing O’Rourke has invested in has been touted as means through which contractors will be able to cut emissions in the coming years. O’Rourke claims that its use of offsite manufacturing on its Liverpool Street Crossrail project reduced embodied carbon by 30 per cent and eliminated seven tonnes of wood waste.
O’Rourke has not issued a net zero carbon pledge, unlike peers such as Balfour Beatty, Mace and Kier. Baker said the company would unveil its sustainability targets soon. “We’re really quite engrossed in this process at the moment of finalizing our sustainability strategy,” she said. “So it would be too early for me to say something on it, but we are really focused on it as a business.”

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Laing O’Rourke CFO: Whitehall ‘gets’ our offsite edge – David Price – 2020-12-17 14:55:22

Can converting a landmark office to a clinic raise up a downtrodden Philadelphia neighborhood?

The 92-year-old Kensington Trust Company Building in Philadelphia is a community landmark. But in recent years, this limestone edifice—vacant since 2015, after its last tenant, Wells Fargo, left—had come to symbolize a poor and crime-ridden neighborhood’s despair. The intersection of Kensington and Allegheny Avenues, where the building sits, has been ground zero for the city’s devastating opioid epidemic.

Kensington Trust’s restoration and adaptive reuse as the Esperanza Health Center—which received an Honorable Mention Reconstruction Award from BD+C—aspired to elevate the location as a catalyst for community engagement. Esperanza’s myriad services include primary medical care for adults and children, dental care, prenatal care, behavioral health, on-site medication dispensaries, and social services assistance.

There’s even a bank branch that provides support and instruction to assist residents who are unfamiliar with financial practices.


This project’s site plan shows some of the features that were added, as well as the building’s proximity to mass transit and Philadelphia’s city center.


Accessibility is key. The building is adjacent to a stop on the city’s Market-Frankfort subway line. The building’s front steps, which had been closed off to pedestrians and visitors, now provide a ground-floor terrace leading to a café and seating area that are open to the public.

“Esperanza Health Center serves as a beacon of hope for a blighted community that feels it has been forgotten,” stated Brawer & Hauptman Architects, which submitted this project for award consideration. “This health center … demonstrates how preservation and adaptive reuse of a neighborhood’s architectural assets can build community and uplift its residents,”

The owner organization is a multicultural faith-based ministry that provides affordable, holistic healthcare to Latino and underserved communities in North Philadelphia. The Kensington Trust building is now its flagship location.


The vision for this project was to create a light-filled, transparent, and welcoming facility. A key design criterion was for informal gathering spaces that could be used by the community. And bringing back the grandeur of the lobby’s space was the focus of the project. Modern architectural materials and light fixtures were chosen to accent existing historical detail. For example, pendant lights resemble the coffers in the plaster ceiling, and draw attention to the height of the atrium.

The building’s atrium, seen from two perspectives, shows how the new and old intersect: the original building’s marble floors and vertibule were retained, while features like pendant lighting were added. Waiting rooms overlook the atrium. 

Connecting the clinical and public components of the building was important for community awareness. The dental waiting area has framed views of the atrium below and the street. Even the exam room has a view of the elevated subway platform outside. Patients in exam rooms can see the elevated subway platforms.

Many of the building’s original architectural elements—such as its plaster ceilings, marble floors and vestibule, and brass entrance doors—were preserved. Two large clocks at the building’s entrance, which hadn’t operated for decades, were restored to working order. The bank’s main vault, lined with brass safety deposit boxes and retaining its massive vault door, now serves as a staff lounge. A second vault on the ground floor became the facility’s chapel.

To guide the clinic’s many patients for whom English is a second language, the building’s wings are color coded for easier wayfinding.

Among this project’s design criteria was connecting the community to the clinic. A dental waiting room (above) looks out onto the building’s atrium and the street. An exam room (below) offers views of a nearby elevated subway platform.


Demolition of existing interior partitions and ceilings on the upper floors found concrete-encased steel on the bottom of the floor slabs. The redesign strove to exploit these elements and highlight the existing structure. However, having open ceilings in the corridors and public spaces of the upper clinical floors, while aesthetically pleasing, made new installations like electricals and ducts more challenging.

During the project’s investigative stage, it was also discovered that the building had been constructed over an active creek called Gunner’s Run that ran through an area toward the Delaware River. The building sits at the lowest point in the watershed, and that creek recharges after several days of rainfall. Consequently, controlling groundwater intrusion required extensive interior trenching and waterproofing.

Before its reconstruction, wrought iron fencing blocked visitors from entering the Kensington Trust building. Now the entrance terrace leads to the clinic’s cafe and seating area. The brass doors were preserved.


Above ground, the building had long been a tagging canvas for graffiti artists, with an estimated 60 layers of paint on certain areas of its exterior surface. A city agency, Community Life Improvement Program (CLIP), was charged with removing the graffiti as part of the effort to return the building’s stone surface to its natural beauty.

Kensington Trust’s monumental windows were replaced, its limestone cleaned, and exterior lighting installed to make its presence in the community even more prominent.  The entrance to Esperanza Health Center was made fully accessible, and greets its visitors and patients with an engraved message that reads “To the glory of God for the people of Kensington.”

PROJECT INFORMATION: Size 35,000 sf Construction start and finish Dec. 1, 2018 – July 1, 2019 Cost $12.5. million Delivery method Design-bid-build

BUILDING TEAM: Submitting firm and Architect Brawer & Hauptman Architects Owner/developer Esperanza Health Center SE Orndorf & Associates ME/PE Smith Miller Associates GC Target Building Construction CM Omnivest

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Can converting a landmark office to a clinic raise up a downtrodden Philadelphia neighborhood? – jcaulfield – 2020-12-18 20:04:09