The Investment Director said the consultant engineers payment was also divided into 4 tranches – 30% on initial drawings, 30% on final drawing, 30% during implementation and 10% on expiration of defect liability period, and that a company Capital Infrastructure Partners were contracted as consultants for the project. Dr. Kargbo also revealed that the contract for the construction of the market which costs $15.6m was sole sourced and awarded to MKD Jahs.
The Director said in December 2014 and January 2015, NASSIT made the initial 30% payment to the contractors for mobilisation and commencement of work, but that nothing happened for a whole year after that, which prompted the Trust to raise issues. The explanation given was that traders still occupied the project site and there was Ebola. After that, the contractor asked for another 20% payment which the Trust honored with the approval of the management committee.
Along the line, the contractor demanded for another 30%, but this time the Trust was apprehensive and refused to honour it on the basis of the absence of a comprehensive valuation report by the consultants CIP.
Apparently the contractor MKD Jahs had personal relationships with the former President Ernest Bai Koroma who later summoned a meeting of all stakeholders in the project at State House.
The outcome of the meeting was former President Ernest Bai Koroma arm twisted NASSIT into agreeing to pay the additional 30% the contractor had asked for even though the Trust made a strong case that it had not received status report on the project from the consultants. NASSIT however paid in 2 tranches due to cash constraints it was faced with at the time (paid 20% immediately after State House meeting and 10% a month later).
Dr. Kargbo said in November 2017, whilst he was on leave, the contractor (MKD Jahs) demanded for another 10% even though it was evident they were not delivering. NASSIT again kicked against this payment, but were summoned to State House again by former President Ernest Bai Koroma and instructed to pay the 10% demanded for by the contractor. At that time, NASSIT had terminated the contract of the consultant engineers CIP for non-performance.
Then in February 2018, the contractor took all stakeholders on a conducted tour of the market project. During that tour, they made claims for additional works, and demanded NASSIT should honour it.
It was clear that the project had not been completed but the contractors wanted more money, which NASSIT was not ready to countenance. The contractors then asked for $1m from NASSIT to complete the work but the institution rejected it.
During cross examination by Joseph F. Kamara counsel for former President Ernest Bai Koroma, the Director of Investment was able to navigate his way round the questions by bringing to the fore the fact that the $36.62m was the total contract sum which included the $15.6m for the market which he was led in evidence for.
In Commission 65 chaired by Justice Bankole Thompson, the state closed its case in the probe into the Ministry of Water Resources with an auditor Mr. Jarrett from Audit Service Sierra Leone. The auditor highlighted the discrepancy in bowser prices between MWR and Guma with the latter’s price way below what the former claimed.