According to pressure group OccupyGhana, the infamous GH¢3.6 million bus branding deal was concluded some two clear months after then Minister of Transport, Dzifa Aku Attivor, had given the contract to Smarttys before the ministry wrote to the Public Procurement Agency (PPA) for approval for sole-sourcing, which is in clear breach of the rules and regulations pertaining to procurement by the government or state institutions.

DzifaThe former minister was recently in the news asking the people of the Volta Region, stronghold of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), to retain the party in power in order to save her from going to jail if the New Patriotic Party (NPP) is given the mandate to rule the country in the November elections.

The pressure group has been putting in the public domain detailed analysis of the contract after it obtained it from the Attorney General (AG), following receipt of the contract documents.

It had issued a notice to sue the government if the AG refused to hand over details of the contract.

The group issued a news release on Sunday saying in summary that “On 28th July, 2015, some two months after Smarttys had completed the branding of the buses, the Chief Director of the Ministry of Transport, signing on behalf of the minister, then wrote to the Public Procurement Agency (PPA) for approval to sole-source the branding contract to Smarttys.”

‘Sweetheart’ Deal

Describing the whole contract as a ‘sweetheart deal’, OccupyGhana said the Ministry of Transport gave four reasons for not opening the contract up for competitive bidding and said “those reasons, of course, did not include the fact that Smarttys had already concluded the branding.”

The group said the ministry gave some bizarre reasons, including urgency, major threat to national security and deployment of the buses as the reasons for solely awarding the contract to Smarttys.

Branding Policy

According to OccupyGhana, it did not make sense for the ministry to hold that the buses had been purchased under a social intervention programme and the colour code which had been selected for the buses was not consistent with the current branding policy of the ministry.

Surcharging Importer

“Why would the ministry with a branding policy on colours order buses in allegedly wrong colours and then use almost $1m of our monies just to change their colours? Why was the person who ordered the buses in allegedly the wrong colours not surcharged with the cost of simply re-spraying them?

“And when have Ghanaians been bothered about the colour in which a bus is sprayed? What was the original colour and what made that colour so repugnant that more of our monies had to be spent to change it? And how do you change the colours by putting the faces of the president and former leaders on them?” OccupyGhana queried.

Childish Lie

The group described the ‘urgency reason’ as “childish, empty, vacuous, corrupt and silly lie that the PPA should have seen through, unless, the PPA, in spite of the good intentions that led to its establishment, has at best become a pliable and malleable tool in the hands of political actors, or at worst, an active participant in corrupt transactions.”

No Security Threat

On the issue of ‘major threat to national security’, OccupyGhana said it was a palpable lie because the buses had already been branded in May for early release and as at the date of writing to the PPA on July 28, “there was absolutely no threat (real or perceived) to the security of the nation.”

OccupyGhana posited, “The only reason why the buses had not been released for operations to begin was that the branding had been done illegally: Smarttys had not been paid, the MOT was now seeking to use illegal means to cover its tracks, and PPA had to prove itself a mere rubber stamp so that Smarttys would get paid,” saying, “but dates don’t lie.”

Pre-Arrangement

The group asked, “And did the PPA cross-check this fatuous lie with National Security? Note, once again, that the PPA approved of the sole-sourcing within 24 hours of receiving this letter. Everything appears to have been pre-arranged.”

On the reason for the deployment of the buses, OccupyGhana said the ministry had insisted, “Smarttys and Smarttys alone had to do the branding because the ministry wanted to ‘deploy the buses by the end of August 31, 2015.’

“The truth, however, is that the buses had already been branded. There was, therefore, no other let or hindrance to deploying the buses even as at 28th July, 2015 when this letter was written for PPA approval.”

Heat On PPA

The group did not spare the PPA which approved the strange deal, saying that if the agency had been diligent, it would have realised that “the buses had already been branded; that for which approval was now being sought, had been done.

“Let us be charitable and assume that the PPA indeed verified the claim; what did they see that led to them granting the sole-sourcing approval within 24 hours?”

Fallouts From The Deal

The GH¢3.6 million, being the cost of the rebranding to the taxpayer, set tongues wagging last year, leading to the resignation of Dzifa Attivor as Minister for Transport.

The government later said it had ordered Smarttys to refund about GH¢1.5 million, being the excess amount on the branding cost, which the company claimed it had since refunded.

Mrs Attivor caused public outrage when she recently asked Voltarians to retain the NDC in government because she feared that if the NPP won the November elections, she and other sitting ministers from the region would be jailed.

She said specifically that during the reign of the NPP, it jailed appointees who were from the Volta Region and that it could repeat it if it won the impending elections.

Her political opponents have interpreted her ethnic outburst to mean an admission of guilt in the manner in which she awarded contracts during her tenure at the ministry.

Source: Daily Guide

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