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Sierra Leone Business: M/s Secon 34 street roads contract to be re-advertised-TAR

A review of the contract agreement for Freetown Streets Phase II West Zone lot 3 and correspondences between the Sierra Leone Roads Authority (SLRA) and the contractor revealed that the contractor for the above road project at the time of bidding was a joint venture between M/s Seacon and M/s Dawnus together. According to the Technical Audit report (TAR), after award of contract, M/s Dawnus wrote to SLRA informing the Authority of its decision to pull out of the project. It was further noted that SLRA did not approve the pull-out by M/s Dawnus as there was no evidence to that.  During site verification, the audit found out that only M/s Secon was on-site in 3 street roads whilst nothing had started in the remaining 34 street roads. There was no evidence indicating the existence of M/s Dawnus on site.  However, it was noted that SLRA did nothing to make sure whether the remaining contractor i.e. M/s Secon was able to proceed with executing the remaining 34 roads within the contract.  “SLRA did not assess the technical and financial capacity of M/s Secon whether it was able to proceed and execute the project. The audit noted that, the joint venture could have been preferred during bidding in order to defeat the procurement process during bidding” the auditors said. The audit concluded that SLRA does not have a working mechanism that ensures contractors adhere to terms and conditions of the contract. It does not also do due diligence and background check to contractors and ensure that contracts are reviewed and updated in case of any change in contractors’ status. SLRA management responded that after the withdrawal of M/s Dawnus from the Joint Venture in the case of Secon/Dawnus, the contract was awarded to the JV arrangement. However, Secon was the lead partner.  As a consequence of delay in the payment of the Advance, the partner Dawnus withdrew from the arrangement leaving the lead. Nonetheless, the Lead partner made some arrangements with Mattiere , a specialized company in bridge fabrication for the delivery of the most challenging aspects of the works (Atlantic Bridge) for which similar activities are ongoing and proceeding satisfactorily on two EU funded projects (Bandajuma MRU bridge and Moyamba to Moyamba Junction). The auditors insisted that this arrangement was not handled and verified by SLRA as it was a legal undertaking. “If left unchecked, the effect is that other joint ventures might be used to defeat procurement process and thus affect the road project works in terms of cost and quality.” It was the recommendation of the auditors that the Management of SLRA should review all contracts and take into account the current registration status and update the same;  evaluate the technical and financial capacity of M/s Secon who is currently on site after pulling out of M/s Dawnus and it should also consider terminating the contract and re-advertise the road project as there are implications that the contractors colluded during bidding in order to defeat the bidding process and maliciously be considered for contract award.

By Zainab Iyamide Joaque

Monday May 20, 2019.

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