Popular Sierra Leonean Business man, Ahmed Gento has been indicted in the 25 Billion Leone King Jimmy Bridge saga that was exposed by the Auditor General of Sierra Leone
The expose was made in 2016 Audit Report on the accounts of the Government of Sierra Leone in reviewing the Road Maintenance Fund Administration expense.
The report revealed that the initial contract agreement Benton Villa Limited owned by Ahmed Gento and the RMFA for the reconstruction of King Jimmy Embankment Le4,700,098,250 which according to the Audit Report was unreasonably and suddenly increased to a whooping 25 Billion Leones.
“It was noted that this contract was modified which resulted in an increase in the contract value by Le 25,820,330,239,” the Audit Report revealed.
This sudden increment was done in contravention of section 144(5) which states that the Administration should have initiated a new procurement proceeding; however, the additional contract was awarded to the existing contractor.
“It was also noted that the modification did not relate to the reconstruction of the King Jimmy embankment but was for the rehabilitation of other feeder roads in the vicinity of King Jimmy,” the Audit Report asserts.
However, the feeder roads which should have include Walace Johnson Street, Walpole Street Wesley Street and George Street remained a pipe dream.
The Auditors recommended that the Administration/the procuring entity should provide reasonable explanation why procurement procedures were breached.
The CEO of Road Maintenance responded, “the risk as rightly mentioned by the auditor is that the Authority (SLRA) may be in breach of the NPPA Act 2004 as the arrangement did not qualify as an addendum… that the auditors should take the matter up with the Authority as the administration did not procure contractors, nor were they involved in the procurement process of the Authority. ”
He ended that they were not in any position to hold brief for the (SLRA) in that regard.
But the auditors said that they believe that as financier, RMFA does not only have the responsibility to pay for contracts that are forwarded to the Authority, but also to vet contracts so as to be satisfied that the procurement processes are free, fair, open and competitive and have been done in line with procurement law and regulation.
Meanwhile a 4yrs road contract that was given to the same Beton Villa has taken almost 8 yrs with little work done-Hill Cut-Jomo Kenyatta Road.