ISU and APC using our own fat to fry us?
Critics may say that my knowledge in procurement and in the award of contract to a particular bidder may be beyond my simple understanding of such matters. But even assuming that it is a correct assumption, I still do not understand the curious manipulations surrounding the construction of the long proposed, much politically vaunted and advertised work on the Kenema to Koindu road, or on the first phase. The jamboree conference held in Segbwema some time last week has only further compounded my confusion and set up a chain reaction as to what we are being taken for. Are some of our Sierra Leonean brothers and sisters working in the interest of the country or simply promoting their own economic interests? Let us briefly review the facts in this road project.
At the request of the last SLPP government of former President Ahmad Tejan-Kabbah a Feasibility study was carried out on the proposed road. The result of the study was shown to the people of the district in Segbwema, who were promised by the former President that funds would be solicited to commence construction without much delay. A successful donor conference was convened in Freetown under the auspices of the then minister of finance John Benjamin. An initial pledge was made for the first phase of the project that is, the sector from Kenema to Pendembu. Then there was a change government.
Bids were invited by the SLRA under the new government and a Korean company known as ISU supposedly successfully won the bid and was awarded the contract by the APC government.
As I reminded my readers recently the construction project itself has been launched on three separate occasions over the last three years with much fanfare and boasting raising the hopes of the people. But it has all been vuvuzela and nothing else. This had led to public disquiet especially as a luxurious construction site had been built by the contractors just outside Segbwema town.
In the meantime many houses along the alignment have been broken and compensation, in most cases very inadequate, has been paid to their owners as well as owners of plantations etc.
At the recent Segbwema jamboree the people were told that the original design of the road was faulty and that the contractors were going back to the drawing board to make amendments for a more solid construction. This is the curious aspect of this strange saga. On what basis did ISU originally bid? Being the reputable firm that they claim to be, did they not study the design and the alignments before submitting their bid? Apart from the long delay what they now propose to do WILL CERTAINLY LEAD TO AN INCREASE IN THE CONSTRUCTION COST including the destruction of new property. But would it be fair to the other groups that bid unsuccessfully for the project? And who will pay the cost overrun, certainly NOT the donors; and who are going to benefit from the kickback? Is this not what the Mende people refer to as “kukujumuku?”
Why has the SLRA lamely stood by and accepted the unfair blame for an initially bad job, when they did not carry out the feasibility studies? Was the role of Charles Mambu simply that of a civil society activist and honest broker or was his role inspired? The whole thing leaves more questions unanswered and, to put it mildly IT STINKS. So far only the ministry of finance appear to come out clean with their statement that the contractors HAD NOT EVEN FULFILLED THE BANK REQUIREMENTS perhaps such as Performance Bond etc.
Serious construction work may not now commence before the end of the coming rains and already the completion date has been fixed at 2013. I wonder how long it’s going to take before the next phase of the construction, that is, Pendembu to Kailahun begins.
The disgusting aspect of it all is the introduction of cheap politics that the original design was by the SLPP government. Did that government conduct the technical studies and is that what the APC plan to tell the people of Kailahun, Buedu, Kangama and Koindu especially the people of Kissi Tongi?
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