Stakeholders in the Begoro District Assembly have lamented the lack of involvement of local stakeholders in the selection and award of contracts for development projects in their communities.
Mr Charles Oware-Tweneboah, District Chief Executive of the Fanteakwa District Assembly, where the Begoro Presbyterian Senior High school is located, decried the practice, when a team from PIAC and journalists from the Institute of Financial and Economic Journalists (IFEJ) called on him after a monitoring visit to the school.
He said the District Assembly was not aware if the contract was awarded to Messrs MOFERG Company Limited for the rehabilitation of the Science Resource Centre at Begoro Presby SHS.
The team, who are monitoring projects in the Eastern Region funded either partially or wholly with Petroleum revenue, found that the project, which was awarded in November 2010 and scheduled for completion in February 2011, had been abandoned by the contractor after initial works.
“My worry is that, most often, the contracts are imposed on us, from either the regional or national and the contractors don’t even consults us; they just go ahead and do it and that is why our involvement in this project was very little,” he stated.
He said the Assembly visited the school during this year’s WASSCE examination and found that the labs were woeful resourced, adding that it was the Assembly’s duty to take up the challenge and ensure that the right thing was done.
He said the Assembly will investigate to find out what had led to that situation and whether or not the money had been disbursed, and retrieve it if the need be. “…because we cannot misuse government money anyhow”.
Ms Iris Dalaba, District Development Planning Officer at the Assembly, also bemoaned the lack of involvement saying although the assemblies prepared medium term development plans containing priority areas for investment in the assemblies, they were usually not consulted in selecting project for investment, as was the case in the Begoro SHS issue.
Dr Steve Manteaw, member of the PIAC, expressed his disappointment with the state of the facility, saying “to say the least, we were appalled by what we saw”.
He noted however that the finding of the team justified the creation of PIAC as the situation will not have been noticed but for PIAC’s visit.
“So it would have gone on for another 100 years like it did in the mining sector, I’m sure that if we had similar arrangements for that sector, in the 100 years we’ve been mining gold, the abuses would have been unearthed and steps taken to correct them,” he stated.
Dr Manteaw said the PIAC report to Parliament and the presidency will highlight the issue and impress on the appropriate persons to address it.
The team also followed up on the contract letter to the Architectural and Engineering Services Limited (AESL), who were mentioned in the letter submitted to the school as the Officer in charge of the project.
Mr George Frimpong Gyamfi, Regional Consultant at the AESL, said the first certificate for work done was issued to the contractor, Messrs MOFERG Company Limited on 9th April 2013.
The work certified included demolition work, casting of terrazzo, construction of balustrade, and changing of plywood ceiling, which amounted to GH¢52,765.89. He has however not been to the site since then.
“The issue is that anytime we call them, they say they have not been paid, and unfortunately when the clients pay them, they don’t give us the feedback,” adding that it was difficult to push contractors to go back to the site when they have gone for loans to execute part of the work and have not been paid for it.
He explained that since most contractors used loans to execute projects, delaying payments meant increasing interest for them, which gets them into debt, thus some of them after receiving their payment will rather pay off their debts and not return to the site.
The practice had led to banks unwillingness to support projects financed by GETFund and the Ministry of Finance due to delays in payments to the contractors.
It is not yet clear whether or not the certified amount has been paid to the contractor. PIAC has committed to follow up on the matter to see if he had been paid.