Public Works Minister Roland Giddings Calls for Legal Actions against ‘Delinquent’ Contractors

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Public Works Minister Roland Giddings Calls for Legal Actions against ‘Delinquent’ Contractors
Public Works Minister Roland Giddings Calls for Legal Actions against ‘Delinquent’ Contractors

Africa-Press – Liberia. Minister Giddings said because companies reneged on the contracts they signed with the government, many projects are left uncompleted or abandoned.

Public Works Minister Roland Giddings has disclosed that Liberia’s public works sector is heavily corrupt, prompting the stalling of developmental projects across the country and the losing of millions of dollars by the government.

According to him, monies have been paid by the government to construction companies for the rehabilitation and construction of roads in the country, but those companies have reneged on fulfilling their contracts signed with the government.

Minister Giddings stated that as a result of this, many projects are left uncompleted or abandoned.

He made these comments when he appeared for a public hearing before the Senate Committee on Public Works at the Capitol Building in Monrovia on Monday, June 17.

He, however, did not name a particular contractor or company that has abandoned and failed to complete road and other infrastructural projects as a result of corruption.

However, Minister Giddings made specific reference to a contract signed by the immediate past government for the procuring of road construction machines.

He pointed out that the Ministry of Justice has already launched a probe into the failure of the contractor (who he did not name) to provide about 42 pieces of road construction machines to the Liberian government after signing a US$4.8M contract with the previous administration to do so.

According to him, the government only received about 27 pieces of these machines (amounting to US$3.2M) while the remaining 15 pieces are yet to be received.

“We have some issues with a contract and the Ministry is speaking to the contractor. I don’t know how far that is now, but the contract was US$4.8M and he was paid US$4M already. He brought in US$3.2M worth (of equipment) and owes the government US$800,000. As a Liberian company, we have been trying to hold a conversation with him to not be seen as not working with a Liberian company. I agree with this perception. Yes, the (public works) sector is corrupt; there has been corruption in the sector and nobody will tell you that the sector is not corrupt.”

According to him, the equipment brought into the country by the contractor are being used by the Paynesville and Monrovia City Corporation and the Ministry of Public Works in the capital and other leeward parts of the country.

He further stressed the need for punitive actions to be taken by the government against delinquent contractors, with the involvement of the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC).

Minister Giddings emphasized that present authorities at the ministry are working to change the negative perception of the infrastructural sector of Liberia.

Capital cities plyable

He said under the new US$22M contracts the government signed with various contractors, several corridors would be plyable for several years.

He disclosed that these contractors will make routine interventions on these corridors to ensure that no car gets stuck in the mud for a prolonged period of time, contrary to speculations in the public questioning the durability of the contract.

“Our intent is not to wait for the corridors to be terrible to pull cars out of the mud but to make sure it is plyable. Plyability is the outcome of the contract that we signed and they should be able to live up to that.”

Minister Giddings named Western Liberia, Grand Gedeh, Fish Town in River Gee, Pleebo to Barclayville amongst others as corridors that are fully accessible.

He admitted that works are still being done along the Zorzor to Voinjama and some parts of Greenville due to the intensity of the rain.

“I saw pictures of trucks that fell in the mud; they didn’t get stuck in the mud. But that is being taken care of. Between Ganta to Tappita, there are two contractors there already doing pavement. Our concern with the contractor from Ganta to Saclepea is that, that contractor stopped work for almost a year plus because the government has not paid the US$3.9M owed the contract; we will have to pay before the contractor can resume work. But, the road is still plyable even though it was not part of the 100 day deliverables. But all of the county capitals and other political subdivisions are plyable.”

No US22M spent

Minister Giddings denied reports in the media that the government, through the ministry, spent the full US$22M to implement President Boakai road development plan for his 100 days in office.

“The Ministry of Public Works did not spend US$22M. We disbursed US$8.9M to the contractor to date. The contract valued up to 2026 is US#22M because of the scope of work. But in terms of spending, we have only spent US$8.9M.”

Under the road identification plan, he disclosed that authorities of the ministry will sit with their technical team to carry out assessments to make new interventions on roads and bridges in the country.

He said for projects that are almost or fully completed, monies owed contractors need to be settled by the government.

Minister Giddings stated that the placement of monies owed contractors to the domestic debts by the government would frustrate them from working further or finalizing those projects.

He maintained that the government should not delay payment to a contractor who has completed a project at 100 percent.

Speaking further, Minister Giddings noted that as part of his policy, the construction of a one-lane Bridge will not be designed or constructed by the government under his administration.

He said though the current administration inherited some contracts in this direction, it will not continue further.

Maintenance zones

He stressed that the administration of President Joseph Nyuma Boakai remains committed to the reemergence of the road maintenance zones across the country.

Under this plan, public works equipment would be stationed in various counties to carry out regular road rehabilitation works to ease constraints citizens faced while commuting the corridors.

Minister Giddings emphasized that modalities are being worked at, including legislative action to actualize this plan.

He said the government cannot contract the more than 11,000 kilometers of feeder and secondary roads across the country due to multiple constraints and overload, but interventions would be made on major corridors through the maintenance zones and the help of multilateral and bilateral partners.

Bushrod Island road

He disclosed that the Japanese government has provided a grant worth US$20M to Liberia for the corridor between the Gabriel Tucker Bridge in Vai Town to the Freeport of Monrovia.

According to him, a consultancy firm is currently in the country working on the designs for the project.

Minister Giddings pointed out that the project will commence at the end of this year, noting that, “the road is water level and it should be a little bit above water level.”

He said prior to the commencement of the project, the ministry will continue to do “some patches” along the corridor.

He expressed disappointment over the construction of buildings on drainages along the corridor, noting that over the years, “the Ministry of Public Works has not been very effective in stopping people from building places that they should not build.”

Minister Giddings added that the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) can also be held liable for its failure to protect the “mangroves” by preventing citizens and others from carrying on construction or other illegal activities there.

“We’re creating a lot of floods because of that and we need to correct some of that. We have to do something and I have the courage to do so. We have started demolition already to open the alleys.”

He used the occasion to disclose that procurement plans are being concluded for interventions to be made on potholes on major roads in the country with asphalt, but the rainy season can only permit the ministry to do so in a speedy manner.

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