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GeneralLiberia news

Public Works begs for mercy

-For unapproved road projects

The Liberian Senate recently investigated the Ministry of Public Works for awarding over US$22.4m worth of contracts to several contractors without legislative approval.

By Ethel A. Tweh

Monrovia, May 29, 2024: The Liberian Senate Committee Chair on Public Works, Sen. Albert T. Chie, says the Ministry of Public Works has pleaded with the Senate for mercy over road projects it undertook without legislative approval.

To soften his colleagues’ anger at the Ministry of Public Works, the Grand Kru County Senator explained that the Ministry had made a misstep, but it was in the interest of the Liberian people.

Chie informed the Senate that the Ministry of Public Works wanted the roads fixed as part of President Joseph Nyumah Boakai’s first 100-day deliverables.

Chie noted that during their meeting with the Ministry of Public Works, the Minister informed them that they followed the Public Procurement and Concession Commission (PPCC) procedure.

Further, he said the Ministry indicated that the PPCC wrote the Finance Ministry, and it was stated that there was a draft budget with up to 22.4 Million dollars in it to cover the road project.

Without hesitation, he said they were given the go-ahead to do the roads.

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“We met with them, and they pleaded with us. Now, since their intentions were good and for the country’s benefit, let us forgive them,” Chie pleaded on behalf of the Ministry of Public Works.

In reaction, Bong County Senator Johnny K. Kpehe suggested that forgiving the Ministry of Public Works is not a problem, but cautioned also that it would serve as a precedent for other entities to have missteps and express regret.

He noted that though the Senate will forgive the Ministry, its wrongdoing should be communicated to avoid a repetition.

For his part, Nimba County Senator Nyan Twayen said the Senate’s Joint Committee should meet with the Ministry of Public Works again to show the work done within the 100 days.

He also said the Ministry should show what remains to be done and the money that has been used.

Senator Twayen noted that the Ministry should submit a comprehensive report to the joint committee on how the $22.4 million was used.

Under these conditions, Senator Twayen agreed with Senator Chie that the Ministry should be forgiven.

It can be recalled that the Senate Plenary instructed its Committees on Judiciary, Public Works, and Public Accounts and Audits to investigate the Public Works Ministry.

The investigation concerned awarding over US$22.4 million worth of contracts to several contractors without legislative approval.

The Senate’s decision followed a joint communication from Senators Nathaniel McGill, Abraham Dillon, Gbehzongar Findley, and Simeon Taylor of Margibi, Montserrado, Grand Bassa, and Grand Cape Mount Counties, respectively.

In their communication, the four lawmakers accused the Ministry of Public Works of awarding contracts valued at US$21 million to some contractors to rehabilitate and construct roads across the country.

They indicated that the contract analysis included but was not limited to, CHICO from Salayea to Voinjama, an amount of US$3,999,000; SSF from Voinjama to Foya, US$1,719,976.40; SSF from Foya to Mendikorma, US$740,650.

The rest of the awardees are CICO to connect from Tapita to Zwedru at US$3,200,000; CHICO from Zwedru to Karnweakan at US$2,434,700; Barclayville to Pleebo valued at US$1,507,750; Buchanan to ITI, US$2,123,651.88; and ITI to Greenville, US$2, 882,000.

The Senators maintained that it was fundamental that any government institution issuing contracts must ensure that funding is available before awarding such contracts as outlined in the Public Financial Management (PFM) and the PPCC Acts.

“The absence of an approved budget, except for the Two Million United States Dollars (US$2,000,000) allotted for Policy Priorities (100-Day Deliverables) out of the approved Forty-One Million United Starts Dollars (US$41,000,000) requested in February, raises questions about the source of funding for these contracts awarded by the Ministry of Public Works,” the senators added.

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