Works and Housing Minister smells rat in Conti drainage project agreement
The Minister of Works and Housing, Samuel Atta Akyea, has said his outfit has detected a US$55,285,866 difference in what parliament approved for the Conti Group of Companies and what government finally entered into with the group for the Conti drainage project.
He said despite parliament approving US$538,299,497 for the drainage project, the contract sum of agreement between the government and the group was US$593,585,636.
“The difference of US$55, 285,866 cannot be traced to any justifiable expenditure, particularly against the backdrop that, the estimate was computed without proper and adequate engineering drawings, design and bills of quantities.
“If the difference was the Exim Bank exposure fee on the loan facility as stated in the memorandum to parliament, “we are yet to comprehend why the bank would waive such a huge sum of money in respect of the reduced contract price,” he said.
Mr Akyea made this known in parliament, Accra, yesterday when responding to a question by the Member for Nsawam/Adoagyiri, Frank Annoh-Dompreh who wanted to know what had become of the Conti project.
The Conti project agreement, signed in 2012, was to address Accra’s decades old sanitation and flooding challenges.
According to Mr Akyea, MP, Abuakwa South, evidence from the Architectural and Engineering Services Limited (AESL) in a value for money audit report in 2013 concluded that, “the so-called engineering drawings, designs, and bill of quantities could not in any way justify the loan amount of US$593,585,636.
“AESL asserts that the figure US$593,585,636 is US$14,700,000 higher than the estimated fair and reasonable price of US$581,036,642,” adding that the AESL was emphatic that “Conti did not have a complete feasibility report on the project and neither did it have the bill of quantities which will pass any international test,” he said.
Describing the Conti project as “excessively exorbitant,” Mr Akyea said the cost of nine drainage basins in total was US$423,372,400, saying “it is very difficult to come to terms with the fact that a single project should be priced at US$593,585,636.”
The AESL as the official consultants on the project, he said, was not allowed to vet Conti’s incomplete engineering document as well as the amount before it was submitted to parliament for approval.
He said despite no work done, government advanced the payment of US$9,581,210 to the Conti Group for expenditures like airfares, hotel accommodation for Conti officials, and “uncertified” engineering works.
On why the facility could not be received for the project to take off, Mr Akyea said there has been a restructuring which saw the Exim Bank of America reducing its US$538 million to US$280 million and the Standard Chartered Bank component of US$125 million abandoned under a new arrangement of phasing out.
His outfit, the Abuakwa South MP said, was in talks with the Attorney General’s Department to consider the civil aspect of the matter and refer the criminal aspect to the Ghana Police Service for investigation and prosecution.
To address the challenges the Conti was contracted to fix, the Minister said the current government had reached an alternative to fix the annual flooding menace in the national capital and other parts of the country.
“The Akufo-Addo government has secured a better alternative. This is cost-effective and will give this great nation value-for-money,” he said.
BY JULIUS YAO PETETSI