Public Works Minister-designate Linked To US$661K Uncompleted Sidewalk Projects


President Joseph Nyuma Boakai, in his inaugural message indicated that under his administration, there will be “No Business as Usual,” however, the President’s recent nomination of Public Works Minister-designate, Roland Lafayette Giddings, along with his former boss William Gyude Moore, according to leaked documents, awarded on December 15, 2016, US$661,607.04.00 dollars construction contract to Mutual Construction Incorporated for a 3.9 kilometer of road curb stones sidewalk and drainages construction from Vamoma House Junction to NOVAFONE head office in Congo Town. According to leaked Public Works document, the contract marked, contract number: MPW-W-006-16/17 between the Ministry of Public Works and Mutual Construction shows that the project which was awarded on December 15, 2016, was not completed even though the funding for the contract was said toi have been disbursed. Conscious of the deplorable state of the curbs, sidewalk drainages from Vamoma to Novafone and convinced of the relevance of maintaining and keeping all roads in the country good and pliable, due to the desire by the Government of Liberia to support and facilitate infrastructural development in every sector of the country, the ministry, awarded the  contract to  Mutual Incorporated; despite the awarding and funding of the contract, it is glaring that there was no substantial work done on the stretch of road. According to the contractual agreement, the contractor should have commenced on the start of the signing of the agreement (December 15, 2016), in accordance with the Work Schedule submitted by the contractor and to the standards required in the Technical Specification and drawings; and that the said road was to be completed in the period of 12 months, commencing from the start date of the project. Furthermore, the agreement stated that upon signing of the contract, an advanced payment of US$198, 482.11.00 was disbursed for mobilization and commencement of the work; thus, constituting 30 percent of the contract price. While the remaining for the entire contracts were paid upon 60 and 100 percent of the work, with certificate of completion for the 60-100 percent work done. However impeccable sources within the ministry divulged that all the funding for that road works were made available without the contractor showing certificate of completion for work done. Even though the initial contract which was to be completed within 12-month period was never completed according to schedule; former Acting Public Works Minister, Joseph Todd, during the administration of former President George Weah, amended Section Two of the initial contract for the extension of the contract period; unfortunately, there was no sign of works done on the stretch of road. In a letter dated July 23rd 2018, which was signed by Richard D. Agbage, General Manager of Mutual Construction, to Mr. Dave Sleweon, Project Engineer, Rigid Pavement Pilot Project and Director of Highway Construction, requested for the approval of the project completion date; in lieu of a letter another dated March 2nd 2018 for the same approval of the project date; but however, did that did not receive the required attention to enable them process vital documents and funds from their bank for the progress of the project. The company additionally reminded Director Sleweon of payment to the addendum of the project as stated in their earlier request letter dated August 14, 2017 and August 16, 2017 respectively. The letter continued: “kindly see the following letters relevant to this project, delivered and signed for: May 24th 2017, Ministry of Public Works letter to Mutual Construction, for change order, scope of work and site instruction on the sidewalk project; a May 26, 2017 letter from Mutual to Public Works, on the submission of revised work schedule and approved Bill of Quantities for the construction of the sidewalk and channel drains, phase one of the project. Another letter also referenced by the contractor of being stalled by the ministry included a letter dated August 14th and 16th 2017, for the payment on the addendum of sidewalk and channel drain work; as well as letters dated March 2, 2018 and May 24th 2018, for extension for completion and another payment for the addendum of phase 1 project; however the Mutual General Manager in his communication noted that these letters did not meet favorable responses to enable them fasten the completion of the project to meet the date stated in the agreement. In response to the contractor, Sleweon on May 24, 2017, noted that based on series of meeting held between both institutions, concerning the scope of works and design of the project, the ministry informed the company to revise the scope of work and design, to incorporate the followings, in order for the drainage structure and sidewalk to meet  existing conditions: covered the proposed Reinforced Concrete Drain with rectangular concrete slab (1.5m) as sidewalk in order to avoid LIBTELCO’s cable. Also, at interval of 100m, the company should introduce catchment pits in order to retain sediments and allow the free flow of runoff within the channel and retain all existing sidewalks and drainages that are in good conditions at the description of the project engineer also repair cracked or damaged sidewalk section along the with all broken curbs. In reaction, the company wrote another communication dated August 14, 2017, requesting payment for the sidewalk and channel drains. According to the letter, the original bill of quantities price was placed at US$661.607.04, however, due to additional work request for addendum, the company adjusted the BOQ at US$727, 802.21, with an addendum price at US$66,195.17.00. Besides fragmented pieces of work on both sides of road from Novafone in Congo Town to the German Embassy and leading to Sophie junction, there is reportedly no visible road work done on any other parts of the project agreed by the Public Works and the company. The Public Works Minister-designate dubbed by employees as: “Don’t Eat on the Mainline,” and his Comptroller then, Abraham Samukai, are also said to have reportedly purchased a 32-seated bus and a Load-bay truck, through GSA from the ministry, for the amount of US$500.00 each, even though sources from within divulged that the amount used to purchase the vehicles were way too below the value of the car.

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