Ministry of Public Works, East International In Shady Deal?
Monrovia – Questions are lingering over the awarding of contracts to a Chinese-based construction company, East International by the Minister and Deputy Ministers of the Ministry of Public Works, William Gyude Moore and Roland Giddings.
Report by Henry Karmo – [email protected]
Sources within the Ministry of Public Works have confided to FrontPageAfrica that the two ministers over the last two years have reportedly, surreptitiously awarded six contracts to the Chinese company, leaving some Liberian companies access.
Recently President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf wrote the Plenary of the senate requesting the body to ratify a contractual agreement between the Government of Liberia and East International Construction Company to complete a road in Bomi County.
The communication was treated with little interest by the Senators and later sent to committee room to be reviewed. FrontPageAfrica has learned that President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has mandated the Public Works Ministry to complete the construction of a road leading to her farm before the end of her tenure and that could only be done if the legislature ratifies the agreement even though the company had failed on previous commitment to pre-finance the project.
Mr. Kelvin Boimah, the head of East International claimed that the process was transparent and in fact his company was the only company that put out a bid for the project when it was announced for bidding.
Pressed over a series of complaints that the company has not completed several projects for which it had been granted, Mr. Boimah said, 65 percent of those projects have been complete with the exception of the shoulders of the roads.
“At Smythe roads we haven’t done the shoulders but we won a legitimate contract. I have no relationship with the ministers at the Ministry of Public works and we have our own equipment.
But I don’t know where this is coming from. That contract was put up for a bid expression of interest and we applied and won,” he added.
But sources at the ministry hinted that East International Construction, a Chinese-owned company, with no history of work anywhere else in the world, was awarded six contracts in two years over two large Liberian construction companies.
Contracts awarded East International include: the Weasua road contract worth about US$3,740, 115, 68 dollars over MDMC Construction, a Liberian-owned company.
Other contracts awarded East International the source said, include the rigid concrete pavements of Redemption road, Thinkers Village road, and the Smythe road were also awarded in the amount of US$3,224,124 dollars over Westwood, another Liberian-owned company.
The source also hinted that the contract for the asphalt pavement of President Sirleaf’s farm road which was placed at US$19million dollars was later increased to US24million dollars even though 10 percent of road work has not been done by the company and there has not been clear reason (s) why such addendum should be made.
East International is believed to have come to Liberia as a construction hardware merchandise company and it remains uncertain how it metamorphosed into a construction firm. The company reportedly lacks the equipment and manpower to effectively execute contracts awarded them.
Hence, road works on five of the six road contracts awarded them have reportedly been stalled due to the lack of adequate equipment as well as sufficient manpower to carry out the work.
The source also stated that as a result of the urgency placed on the President’s farm road, East International has reportedly transferred all her equipment and manpower to fast track President Sirleaf’s farm road so as to ensure it finished before her tenure ends from office.
When contacted, Deputy Minister of Administration for Public Works referred the reporter to the Minister proper indicating that he is not clothed with the authority to comment.
The deputy also suggested the reporter to make use of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Law; as the information requested were public documents.
In furtherance of balancing the investigation, the reporter texted Public Works Minister Moore on May 19, 2017 at about 10: 39am seeking audience for clarity; but Minister Moore replied asking for the reporters’ identity which was immediately provided; and he replied via text indicating that: “All MPW contracts are cleared by PPCC. I will not allow any interviews until you have spoken to the PPCC.”
The Public Works Minister in furtherance of his reaction, also stated via text message that: “If you do not speak with the PPCC, then don’t go ahead and print whatever you want. Bye. Don’t text me again until you have returned from the PPCC.”
When contacted for verification, PPCC boss, Dorbor Jallah, referred this reporter to ppcc.gov.lr/ and instructed him to check for “approved contracts” link to see high-value procurement contracts that have been approved by the PPCC for FY 2017-17.
However, this reporter could not find the link “approved contracts” on the website.