Liberia Medical Health Products Regulatory Authority Awards US$1.5 Million Contract to Company Linked to Ruling Party Senator Saah Joseph

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MONROVIA – A FrontPageAfrica investigation has uncovered that the Liberia Medical Health Products Regulatory Authority (LMHRA) has awarded contract for the Construction of its Laboratory in Careysburg, Montserrado County to a company linked to Senator Saah Joseph of the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC).

Senator Joseph is the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Executive and a member of the Health Committee.

FrontPageAfrica established that the laboratory construction project which is funded by Global Fund, is valued at over a million United States dollars was awarded to a firm called Overseer Developmental National Group of Companies believed to be owned by the Senator.

The company has no history of implementing such project.

Senator Joseph did not respond to or return several phone calls placed to him for comments. He also did not reply text messages seeking comments his involvement with the company and the contract.

Though Senator Saah Joseph would not confirm or deny his involvement with the company but sources familiar with the formation of the company and how the contract was awarded informed ForntPageAfrica that the Lawmaker exerted his influence to ensure that the LMHRA awarded the contract to Overseer Developmental National Group of Companies which has no history of performing such a contract.

However, the LMHRA confirmed to FrontPageAfrica that Overseer Developmental National Group of Companies won the bid but said they followed the required procedure.

The LMHRA further stated that the bidding documents were prepared using the standard bidding format for the procurement of civil works as mandated under the Government of Liberia Public Procurement Concession Commission (PPCC) Guidelines. The tenders committee provided approval on April 3, 2020, along with that of the temporary office.

According to them ‘Overseers Development National Group of Companies’ provided extra innovative drawing for a modern laboratory complex entered a joint venture with B. K. Enterprises, thus the combined forces to be more effective, with substantial reliability.

“Therefore, the Tender Evaluation Committee (TEC) submitted the report to the procurement committee for its review and consideration and recommendation to award the contract to Overseers Development National Group of Companies, Inc. & B. K. Enterprises (a Joint Venture), who have determined to have submitted the best evaluated and substantially responsive.

“Both companies were represented by Mr. Oliver Davies.

The total cost of the Laboratory Complex is put at US$1.5M

“The invitation for bids was advertised on the Government of Liberia website- (www.emansion.gov.lr) on April 6, 2020.

“Ten (10) bidders purchased the bidding documents before the deadline for submission of bids.

Deadline for the submission of bids was set at April 30, 2020, however, there was extension of the deadline for bid submission to give the would-be contractors ample time to design their own structures and or improve what was given them in the bid documents, as it was incomplete. Thus, the deadline was extended by two weeks, till May 15, 2020 for the bigger lab.

“Eight (8) bidders out of the ten (10) who purchased the bidding documents submitted the bids by the submission deadline. The bids were opened in accordance with the Invitation to Bid (ITB) in the presence of the Bidders’ representatives and others who chose to attend in the LMHRA conference room then located on the Old Road, Monrovia, Liberia.”

According to the LMHRA, all Bids were opened, prices read out and details recorded one by after the other and relevant pages initialed by the Bid Opening Committee, chaired by the Procurement Manager [Mrs. Hawa Tambah]. “There was one clarification or query sought by one of the attendees on the design of the Laboratory – whether bids would be disqualified if extra design was not presented.

Participating companies include: Woodstock Liberia, Seek Engineering & Construction

Africa Tiles, Desire Construction Company, Overseer Development National Group of Companies and B.K. Enterprises (entered a joint venture), Interwood Inc, JLN International and LIDA.

This is not the first time Senator Joseph has been linked to a receiving contract from the government through a company he owns.

It can be recalled that that the Minister of Health Dr. Wilhemina Jallah admitted awarding a US$140,000 contract to Senator Saah Joseph’s First Responders for the provision of ambulance services in four counties for the period of one year and the provision of handwashing machines.

Though all his First Responder’s ambulances bear his pictures, Dr. Jallah said she was not aware that the company belonged to Senator Joseph as she did not sign any contract with him.

She said the decision to award First Responder the contract cannot constitute conflict of interest as it was taken in the best interest of Liberians during the height of the COVID-19 in 2020.

According to Dr. Jallah, it was Information Management System (IMS), and not the Health Ministry that agreed to work with First Responder on the basis of the group’s “unmatched experience, coming out of its Ebola response record”.

She emphasized that the IMS and not just the Ministry of Health, agreed to do business with the First Responder, with its experienced crew and ambulance to transport patients during the height of the COVID-19 onslaught on the country.

“In the interest of Liberia, in the interest of emergency, we used First Responder,” said Dr. Jallah.

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