County Administration Ignores Options to Complete Grand Bassa Stadium
Buchanan, Grand Bassa County – FrontPage Africa has gathered that Grand Bassa County administration is snubbing numerous suggestions from the Liberian construction firm hired to re-modernize the stadium as finishing works on the stadium continue to stall.
Report by: Alpha Daffae Senkpeni, [email protected]
Recent comments by the county’s Assistant Superintendent for Development, Adonis Greaves, has further heightened the stalemate when he recently called for court actions against CJ Construction Incorporated.
CJ Construction Incorporated was hired in July 2012 by Grand Bassa County to modernize the 6,000-seat Doris Williams Stadium in Buchanan.
The company says the completion was delayed due to unforeseen conditions including unfavorable weather condition, hiccups regarding changes that could not be resolved and obstructions created by the outbreak of the Ebola virus disease.
FPA recently gathered from the company’s Senior Managing Partner, James Johnson that the firm has offered numerous mitigating suggestions and options to ensure the project moves forward in the best interest of the county and the company without venturing into litigation.
“We have had several discussions about how to progress with the stadium project and as I have said to the county before, my company is committed to completing this project,” Mr. Johnson said.
There has been concern about the firm under-biding for the contract, something procurement experts say is the company’s fault, on the other hand, it has limited chances of making upward financial adjustments on the project by the company.
And the firm’s Senior Managing Partner concedes that his company’s prospect for the project was in the interest of the county but is being misinterpreted by individuals that are unbending about politicizing the unfolding situation without showing concern good of the end users.
Appearing on a local radio station in Buchanan City recently, Grand Bassa Development Superintendent threatened court action against the firm for what he termed as for ‘reneging on the stadium project’. But insiders of the county administration following the situation told FPA that Mr. Greaves’ comments contravene strides to amicably settle the stalemate.
Discussions between the county and the firm were said to be yielding fruits in October 2015, prompting the construction firm to admit it was closer to resuming works.
“Things are moving in the right directions, so starting from next week we are going to have a light crew there in Buchanan,” Johnson said in 2015. But a recent comment by Greaves is reportedly undermining mitigating efforts to finally complete the project, he added.
County Superintendent Levi Demmah in May this year revealed to a FrontPageAfrica reporter that his administration has written the Public Procurement and Concession Commission (PPCC) to seek the commission’s advice on how to proceed with the project, considering the existing hurdles.
“We are awaiting the response from the PPCC on how to move forward with the stadium project, considering that we were not overseeing the county administration when the project contract was signed,” explained Mr. Demmah.
Demmah assumed his role as Superintendent early 2016, but the contract worth US$538,482.00, was signed in August 2012 with a retention fee of US$53,482.20 (10%), according to the contract document, which intends to cover latent defects that may be found to exist in the work for a total of 60 days after the project.
Retention Fee in Limbo
CJ Construction says it has requested the 10% percent in retention fee to enable it complete the work but to no avail while county administration sources say the fee has vanished in thin air. County Spokesman Eddie Williams has ignored inquiry by FPA on the matter. The firm says it continues to seek mutual means from the administration but all to no avail, which it says, is causing a prolong stalemate.
“Right now we are willing to complete the work because we still have work force on the ground there and our equipment is on the site in Buchanan,” Johnson said.
“We will need the county administration to deposit the retention fee in an escrow account so that once the work is done we can get our money.” The firm’s executive comments inferred that his administration is wary about the availability of the funds base on lingering concerns.
Project Committee Wants Mutuality
Grand Bassa County’s Project Management Committee appears to be in disagreement with the Development Superintendent and his call for legal action and says it is ascertaining more details about the project since the committee was elected last year when the project was already ongoing.
The PMC headed by Theophilus Y. Bedell in 2015 was confident about the completion of the project after additional US$125,000.00 was allotted during the 7th County Sitting for the completion of the stadium project.
The allotment fell through due to unending disagreement by the development superintendent and with the 2015/2016 budget year now over, sourcing the money from the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning is impossible.
The PMC Comptroller, H. Uriah Bryant, asserted in late 2015 the project was understated during the bidding project which he argued put the construction firm in some difficulties.
He, however, showed optimism that the appointment of Superintendent Demmah could have ended the stalemate for the completion of the project.
Speaking recently to FPA, Bryant called for the handling of the situation amicable saying: “Amidst these political situations there are needs to understand things practically.”
He added: “For us (PMC), since we took over we have been following the entire situation and that is why we have asked the PPCC to advice on the whole issue, so until PPCC can give definite stance on the project we cannot do anything.”
Like Bryant, several others have questioned the 90% payment of the project’s worth to the construction company. The county administration through the Development Superintendent could have realized that the work was not 50% done; therefore it shouldn’t have made the payment.
There are lingering concerns about the administration, arguing that the firm did not complete 50% of the work but it disbursed 90% out of US$538,482.00 to the construction company.
Speaking further, the PMC treasurer said the county administration has not given a definite position on the situation surrounding the project but hinted that legal action should be the last resort.
Mix reactions in the Port City of Buchanan signal dissatisfaction amongst many locals over the protracted delays in completing the stadium with local advocacy groups including the Grass Roots Agency for Social Services (GRASS) calling for the completion of the project.
Although the stadium is unfinished, it has since 2014 hosted several National County Meet games and other major county sports competitions, making the firm to argue that the unfinished stadium is serving the significance of its purpose.
Responding to the public perceptions about the delays in completing the project which has put the company’s reputation under scrutiny in the Grand Bassa, the Senior Managing Partner of the company clarify that his firm has an impeccable performance record considering the number of high profile projects it has implemented for corporate and private clients in and out of Liberia.
“We have constructed and managed well over $50 million USD contracts in Liberia and over a $1 billon USD contracts in the United States,” Johnson said.
Amongst several other projects, the firm has implemented projects for the United States Embassy in Monrovia during the construction of its new Embassy complex, APM Terminal at the Free Port of Monrovia, rehabilitation of the Liberia Petroleum Refinery Corporation (LPRC) storage facility, and the Alexander Cummings apartment complex amongst several other hefty projects.
The firm’s current performance in constructing the ELWA new 100 bedrooms hospital in Paynesville which is nearing completion showcases its track record as a Liberian firm, Johnson said.
“The records are there to see; we have performed in an outstanding faction as a Liberian firm and we are always dedicated to working for our country.”