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MPs Inspect EU-Funded Construction Projects in Kenema

On the 31st of May, 2024, esteemed Members of the Parliamentary Oversight Committee on Local Government and Rural Development engaged in an on-site inspection of several European Union (EU)-funded construction projects in the Kenema District. The visit aimed to assess the quality and effectiveness of these projects, ensuring that they provide efficient service delivery to the local populace.

Honorable Musa Fofana, Chairman of the Committee, emphasized the purpose of their oversight visit, which was to ascertain whether there was adequate value for money in the projects being implemented by the District Council.

During the inspection of the Blama Market Construction project, Regent Chief Small Bo Chiefdom, Munda Senessie, expressed gratitude for the market, describing it as transformative for the beneficiaries. He highlighted the positive impact of the pavement on the market floor, as it had mitigated the frequent flooding that was previously experienced in the market.

The beneficiaries, however, requested the provision of a cold room for fish products and a tricycle for transporting their goods.

The Committee observed the need for a signboard that clearly states the project funders and the implementing organization, ensuring greater visibility for the Council's efforts.

Furthermore, the Kenema District Council Chairman, Mohamed Sesay, Chief Administrator Ahmed S. Koroma, and Finance Officer Femoh A. Sattie showcased a reconstructed bridge linking Blama Village to the Mission Compound, a project funded by the Council's own source revenue.

The Improved Mortuary and Funeral Home project, outsourced to Columbia Davies Memorial Funeral Parlour, impressed the MPs with its state-of-the-art infrastructure, including solar-powered freezers, a showroom, offices, toilets, a cold chamber, chapels for religious laying out, a well-equipped carpentry workshop, and a staff residence. Notably, unlike other mortuaries in the country, this one was observed to be exceptionally clean and well-maintained.

The Committee once again stressed the importance of project visibility and recommended the erection of a prominent signpost that provides detailed information about the financiers and the implementing partner, complete with their respective logos.

Another project inspected was a remarkably constructed Modern Hall equipped with WASH and COVID-19 facilities. The hall featured a comfortable backstage area, a VIP lounge, and a generator room with a standby generator.

Honorable Saa Emerson Lamina, Deputy Leader of Government Business 2, expressed his profound appreciation for the construction work done on this edifice.

"I'm really impressed with the construction work done on this edifice."

However, Committee Chairman Honorable Fofana noted that the work of the borehole well engineer required improvement, and the Council Officials agreed to address this issue promptly.

Following the inspection of the various project sites, the MPs meticulously reviewed the Council's interim financial report for the period 2020-2024.

Honorable Rtd Cpt. Boima lauded the project implementation by the Council, commending their judicious use of the allocated funds. Nevertheless, he encouraged the Council Officials to enhance the visibility of their projects by effectively communicating the intended outcomes and benefits to the public.

Honorable Abdul Karim Kamara commended the market project, acknowledging its potential to significantly improve the lives of the people in Blama, particularly with the pavement of the formerly muddy ground. He raised concerns regarding the cost and timeframe (three years) of the project and emphasized the need for independent auditing in accordance with EU standards.

The Chief Administrator responded by informing the MPs that all projects had been implemented and that the remaining tasks included the submission of a narrative and financial report, along with an expenditure report. He also clarified that the Council had contributed ten percent to the project, with the EU providing ninety percent of the funding.

Additionally, it was confirmed to the MPs that there were remaining funds in the project account.

The issue of the ten percent retention was extensively discussed, with the aim of ensuring that the Council maintained a safe position in relation to the EU.

Other matters that arose during the engagement included the presence of an excessive number of positive variances and a lack of negative variances, as well as inquiries regarding whether contractors were paid in Leones or Euros (it was clarified that payments were made in Leones).

The potential impact of exchange rate fluctuations on the project was also scrutinized, although a thorough analysis was hindered by the absence of the Procurement Officer and the unavailability of the relevant documents.

Members of the Committee also discovered instances of positive variances and cautioned the Council officials not to disregard the unit cost.

A variation in cost was detected, but it was promptly clarified that the tower cost differed for the two markets because different contractors were involved, each with their own quotations.

Nevertheless, members of the Committee instructed the Council Officials to review their figures in light of the available literature.

The Council officials expressed their appreciation for the Committee's attention to key technical issues and promised to incorporate their advice, such as including a remarks column to provide explanations for complex matters.

In conclusion, members of the Committee commended the implementation of the projects but cautioned the Council Officials, especially engineers and auditors to do their job in monitoring contractors to ensure that there is value for money upon the completion of these projects.


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