– Audit Office orders recovery of monies from contractor
A $16M contract to build a concrete bridge at Arocuro, Mabaruma, Region One, has highlighted some glaring problems.
In addition to not being built according to specifications, it appeared that the Barima/Waini administration paid little attention to what it was getting for the money.
The bridge project was flagged in the 2016 Report of the Auditor General, which was looking into capital expenditure of the region.
The report disclosed that the contract for the construction of the reinforced concrete bridge at Arocuro, Mabaruma was awarded by National Procurement and Tender Administration Board (NPTAB) to the sixth lowest of 10 bidders in the sum of $16.377M.
The engineer’s estimate was $17.128M. The contract was signed on September 19, 2016, with a duration of four months for completion.
However, state auditors could not determine the defects liability period from the documents examined.
However, by then, the contractor, who was not named, was paid the full sum of $16.377M.
A physical verification of the works revealed that the contractor was overpaid the sum of $851,420, auditors said.
In addition, a signed contract document was not presented for audit examination. What auditors received for verification was a copy of the priced Bill of Quantity from the contractor, the signed contract agreement and a valuation was presented.
“As a result, the terms and conditions of the contract as well as the technical specifications could not be determined. Further, it was discovered that the rates paid for the items in the Bill of Quantity (provisional sum) were increased while no justifications or reasons for these increases…”, the Auditor General report said.
Auditors discovered that 12 additional piles at a total cost of $2.998M were installed to the bridge and paid for at a significantly higher rate using the provisional sum.
“It was noted that there were no approvals for these additional works while the cost per pile was increased from $140,000 in the original priced Bill of Quantity, to $230,000. In addition, physical verification and assessment of the completed bridge revealed that the twelve additional piles are not serving any purpose in supporting the bridge structure and, as such, the unauthorised payment of $2.998M to the contractor for additional piles is therefore questionable,” the report said.
The report was highly critical of the overall finished quality of concrete works. They were very shoddy; exposed steel reinforcements were visible in some sections of the reinforced concrete rails to the bridge.
Instead of galvanized, the contractor used reinforced steel for the rails.
“It must be noted that the rails to the bridge were to be constructed using galvanised pipe, however, the rails were actually completed with reinforced concrete and no approvals for this change was seen.”
In responding to the claims, the Regional Executive Officer, “indicated that the project will be investigated and the overpayment recovered”.
The Auditor General report recommended that the Regional Administration take immediate steps to recover the overpayment and ensure that other completed works are accurately measured and quantified before payments are made to contractors for works completed.
The region was also warned that it must immediately desist from modifying the scope of works and changing the rates for items in the Bill of Quantity of the contract.
The region was also ordered to submit a copy of the complete contract document for audit examination and ensure that all additional works are approved by way of Variation Order and that all relevant details and justifications are attached to such Orders.
With some of the outlying regions difficult to monitor, the Audit Office has been finding some worrying breaches of procurement and lack of supervision.
The conclusions have been there…corruption.
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