13 November 2017

Liberia: Public Works Ministry Makes U.S.$5 Million Payment to Contractor Against LACC Advice

Monrovia — A FrontPageAfrica investigation has uncovered that US$5 million has been paid to Praise Glory Lawal (PGL) Construction Company despite advice from the Liberian Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) to stop payments to PGL pending the outcome of an investigation.

According to our investigation, the LACC in May 2015 launched an investigation into the awarding of contract to PGL. Result from preliminary investigation showed that the company allegedly received US$1.9M for the rehabilitation of the Brewersville-Bopolu road project without submission of a Bill of Quantity (BOQ) to the Ministry of Public Works.

"The Commission would also appreciate were you to stop all furthered payments to Praise Glory Lawal Construction Company (PGL) pending the outcome of investigation," the LACC recommended in 2015.

According to sources, in 2012 former Public Works Minister Samuel Kofi Woods, after the necessary bidding process was conducted, recommended that the contracts be awarded to two Liberian construction companies "Solid Rock" and "West Wood".

In the documents in possession of FPA, the 41.8km road from Bomi to Gbarpolu counties should have been awarded to "Solid Rock Investment".

The project was value US$1,596,001.90 (One million five hundred ninety six thousand one dollars and ninety cents United States dollars) including labour and transportation.

The project had duration of hundred working days excluding Sundays and holidays.

On the other hand, West Wood should have been awarded the contract for the rehabilitation of a 57-mile road from Brewerville to Liviction Town.

The cost of the project was estimated at US$1, 710,000.00 with a duration of three months.

Contrary to Minister Woods' recommendation, our investigation shows that things changed after Minister Woods resigned as Minister of Public Works.

In our investigation it is alleged that Deputy Public works Minister under Woods, Victor Smith, who was then Acting Minister transferred the contract to PGL and raised the amount from over US$2 million to US$5 million.

Sources also confirmed that upon her ascendency as Minister of Public Works, Angelique Weeks submitted the contract to the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission for investigation she got re-assigned while investigation into the matter had not concluded.

According to documents, Minister Gyude Moore increased the cost of the project to US$ 8 million upon taking over as Minister.

Up to present, five of the eight million United States dollars has been paid to PGL company and plans are on the way to pay the remaining three million.

In an inter-office communication submitted by the Sr. Compliance Officer Patrick S. Jackson to Mr. Hanson Kaizolu, Comptroller and Accounting General of Liberia dated June 27, 2017, on verification report title: "Verification Report For Brewerville-Bopolu Project" stated that an audit was being completed on the vouchers of the PGL construction Company in the amounts of US$225,000, covering payment representing Certificate of completion for the project at 75 percent work done.

Findings from the audit and physical verification done on the voucher, shows that; PGL is a company registered under code 4100, which is for the construction of building, instead of roads and railways and that F4210 second Certificate as presented by PGL is the proper code for roads and railways but it was issued on October 23, 2015 and expired September 12, 2016.

The investigation findings according to the document also showed that there is no invoice attached to the document presented for payment indicating that PGL has submitted a bill.

In paragraph four of the findings addendum requirement of the Physical Audit Unit (PAU) calls for a standardizing the road corridor, by upgrading said, corridor from 7.3M to 10.3 for the future asphalt pavement. The findings also states that 50km of the 7.3 m -10.3m road was already done prior to PC decision not to proceed due to cost overrun.

PAU investigation stated: "Under the Earth Works, we verified that Molton Corner Brewerville to Kpo hill in Gbapolu County excavation work-cutting and filling of the soil, clearing of the vegetation, roads works were observed to have been implemented since last payment.

From Brewerville store to the boundary between Gbapolu and Bomi counties- the road contains more soft and loose dirt than solid content, which is resulting to over flowing of the water. Kpo hill to Bomboma, there no earth works done.

From Gandima to Bopolu City, there no earth works done.

The PAU report also disclosed that due to the poor installation on the wings walls and culverts, it is established that the wing walls broke from the culverts resulting into eroded road surface.

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