Judgement Debt Commissioner alarmed

Mr. Justice Yaw Apau, Sole CommissionerMr. Justice Yaw Apau, the Sole Commissioner, was alarmed yesterday as to how the state has been made to pay a whopping sum of GH¢545,870,081.00 (over 5 billion old Ghana cedis) as judgment debt to a contractor due to someone’s ineptitude.

K.A.E. Ghana Limited, a Tamale-based construction firm, was contracted in 1985 to construct a small scale irrigation scheme dam (IDA project) under the Ministry of Agriculture for the Golinga Community in the Northern Region, at the cost of ¢12,897,559 old cedis, but the project was terminated by the Northern Regional Tender Board owing to some technical reasons.

The contractor was to be paid ¢2.8 million old cedis (GH¢208.00) for an aspect of the project he executed following an evaluation done by the Architectural and Engineering Services Corporation (A.E.S.L.) in 1985, but the amount was never paid by the Irrigation Development Authority (IDA) through the Ministry of Agriculture.

As a result of the non-payment of the said amount, K.A.E. Ghana Limited took the matter to court and judgement was delivered in its favour on March 3, 2008, where an amount of GH¢545,870,081.00 was paid as judgement debt to the company.

The payment of the huge sum by the state baffled the Sole Commissioner and he asked the Managing Director of A.E.S.L., Mr. Louis Satchmo Attia Atongo, why the ¢2.8 million was not paid earlier until 23 years later for the state to incur over ¢five billion old cedis as judgement debt.

The A.E.S.L. Managing Director appeared before the Judgement Debt Commission with supporting documents to refute the allegation made by the Irrigation Development Authority (IDA) which was a beneficiary client that it had no knowledge of the award of contract and that the then Northern Regional Consultant of A.E.S.L. who is now dead, awarded it without any consultations.

But Mr. Atongo maintained that all IDA fully participated in the meetings preceding the award of the Golinga Small Scale Dam Scheme and it was, therefore, untenable for the beneficiary client organisation to deny any knowledge.

He said the A.E.S.L. did not award the contract to K.A.E. Ghana  Ltd;  rather, the Northern Regional Tender Board did so in 1985 at the time the various regions had PNDC Under Secretaries of Agriculture and the A.E.S.L. was only contracted as consultants to the dam project which the Regional Engineer and the Chief Executive of IDA were duly informed.

He said the cost of the project was computed based on the project drawings and even with inputs from the IDA.
According to the A.E.S.L. Managing Director, the PNDC Monitoring Team also visited the project site and Golinga and agreed that the contractor (K.A.E.) be paid for the portion of work done, which was evaluated to be 2.8 million old cedis (GH¢208).

The contractor, who waited in vain for the money, resorted to legal means and secured judgement in his favour.
In another development, the Counsel for International Tobacco Ghana Limited (ITG), Mr. Felix Ntrakwa, submitted documents on the ruling it also obtained from the courts in respect of ITG vrs CEPS, SSNIT, Attorney-General (A-G) which resulted in the payment of judgement debt.

Since an aspect of the issue is still pending before the High Court, the Commission took the documents and discharged the witness.

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