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Why vilifying SLRSA boss for her uncompromising stance?

Why vilifying SLRSA boss for her uncompromising stance?

The Sierra Leone Road Safety Authority (SLRSA) recently organized a news conference at their headquarters on Kissy Road, Freetown, to express their dismay over what the Public Relations Officer (PRO) Abdul Karim Dumbuya described as “misleading information being circulated by one Mohamed Conteh trading as ALUMED International (SL) Limited.”  (Photo: Dr. Sarah Bendu)

According to a press release on the misleading information being peddled round by Mohamed Conteh, in August 2014, SLRSA issued an advert for the construction of an ultra-modern office at the institution’s Africanus Road Branch in Kissy, Freetown. The Procurement Unit employed the International Competitive Bidding (ICB) method and nine individuals/companies submitted bids including Mohamed Conteh trading as ALUMED.

The release stated that the evaluation of bids commenced and the Evaluation Committee recommended ALUMED of Waterloo Street, Freetown, adding that a letter of notification was sent to ALUMED which clearly spelt out that six conditions should be fulfilled before a contract could be assigned or awarded. The release furthered that ALUMED submitted some of the documents requested and asked for additional time to submit the performance and advance payment bonds that were very crucial to the entire procurement process.

Despite the Procurement Committee granted his request, the release states that Mohamed Conteh failed to make use of the opportunity by not submitting the other relevant documents as requested by SLRSA. Consequently, the Authority expressed serious concern to ALUMED over his failure to complete the documentation according to the release, noting that following the delay, the Authority did some investigation and discovered that “there was no assessment and payment by ALUMED since 2014 to date, a key criterion in any procurement process.” It further states that even though NRA records indicated that ALUMED has not made any tax payment since 2014, yet Mohamed Conteh produced updated tax clearance, a clear indication of forgery.

As a result of the development, the Authority informed the National Public Procurement Authority (NPPA) about the fake NRA information submitted by Mohamed Conteh and non-submission of advance payment as requested. The NPPA reviewed relevant documents and correspondences and subsequently gave no objection to the termination of the notification of the award letter, the release states, adding that on 10th June, 2015, the notification of the award letter issued to ALUMED was terminated and the Evaluation Committee report was revisited.

The Authority is however annoyed that “after all these stator processes, Mohamed Conteh of ALUMED commenced a campaign of calumny against the Executive Director of SLRSA using both the traditional and social media spreading libellous information against the Executive Director of SLRSA.”  Although Dr. Sarah Bendu has every right to take legal action against the perpetrator of this campaign of calumny, her busy schedule will not allow her to do so,” the release states.

The rationale behind the issuing of the press release, according to SLRSA, is putting out the information for the general public to know the truth and to see how Mohamed Conteh’s unscrupulous activities contributed to delaying a very important project which is part of Government’s Performance Tracking Table (PTT) and His Excellency’s Agenda for Prosperity. Over and above all, the Authority discovered that Mohamed Conteh (ALUMED) hasn’t got what it takes to undertake such a premium contract based on his character and conduct.

A letter which the Sierra Leone Commercial Bank wrote to the Director General of SLRSA cancelling the Performance Bond of ALUMED International Trading and Construction after the Guarantor withdrew its service; and, the other written by NRA (Domestic Tax Department) claiming that “No assessment and payment of Corporate tax and other taxes due to the National Revenue Authority S news conference for media practitioners to justify SLRSA’s allegations against Mohamed Conteh.

Be that as it may, the Government of Sierra Leone established the National Public Procurement Authority (NPPA) by an Act of Parliament to ensure transparency and accountability in the use of the country’s resources and donor funds. It is against the backdrop of transparency and accountability that the International Competitive Bidding (ICB) method was introduced with certain criteria to be met by bidders before the awarding of any Government contract. The system also ensures that the individual or company being awarded a Government contract is up to the task as opposed to the previous system wherein irresponsible individuals or companies were awarded Government contracts as a result of their political connections. Therefore, anyone that attempts to beat the procurement process as proscribed by law is not only an enemy of national development, but also unpatriotic and criminal. And this bid fits Mohamed Conteh who deliberately faked two important documents for the contract after he had failed to fulfil two of the six conditions clearly spelt out to be fulfilled before a contract could be assigned or awarded. Had ALUMED been a genuine contractor, he would have used the additional time he requested for as an opportunity to pay his tax arrears and look for a credible Sierra Leonean to serve as his guarantor at the Sierra Leone Commercial Bank, but he chose to criminally outsmart SLRSA by submitting fake documents hoping that they would not be vetted.

Besides, Mohamed Conteh behaved irresponsibly and immaturely by launching media campaign of calumny against the Executive Director of SLRSA, Dr. Sarah Bendu, who genuinely used her good offices to ensure the country’s resources did not fall into the wrong hands that could have impacted negatively on the all-important project. But Mohamed Conteh’s campaign of calumny, hate and destruction to present an ugly image of the Executive Director for his “unscrupulous activities” and delaying the project regarded as part of the President’s Agenda for Prosperity will surely boomerang because Dr. Sarah Bendu has performed exemplary well since her appointment as head of that Authority over seven years ago. No criminal-minded Sierra Leonean will therefore succeed in destroying the good reputation she has made over the years before she got to that executive position.

I believe Mohamed Conteh owes Dr. Sarah Bendu and the entire SLRSA an apology for misinforming the general public about why the contract for the construction of an ultra-modern office at the SLRSA’s Africanus Road Branch in Kissy was not awarded to him. And if he has any intention of bidding for Government contracts in future, all he should do as a contractor is to always meet the NRA’s benchmark and to comport himself genuinely to have the confidence of reputable Sierra Leoneans who will not hesitate to serve as his guarantors in terms of Performance Bond. But Mohamed Conteh’s skewed behaviour of casting aspersions on reputable officials for performing their duties according to international best practice will only deepen his problem of credibility and trust which is not good for any healthy business.

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