|PRESIDENT KOROMA ADMONISHES HEALTH-INFRASTRUCTURE CONSULTANTS AND CONTRACTORS– ONE COULD BE|
CALLED IN BY THE POLICE
President Ernest Bai Koroma yesterday 20th April 2010 held a high-level meetingwith consultants and contractors responsible for the rehabilitation and/or construction of health facilities, particularly medical stores, around the country.
Welcoming the group to State House, the Head of State said, "April 27th is exactly 7 days to go, and we gave been gearing ourselves up, getting ourselves ready to introduce the free healthcare package that we believe will impact greatly on the welfare of our people," but he said there were still various aspects to look at, one of which was the state of the health infrastructure "the area you are directly involved in.
President Ernest Bai Koroma yesterday 20th April 2010 held a high-level meeting with consultants and contractors responsible for the rehabilitation and/or construction of health facilities, particularly medical stores, around the country. Welcoming the group to State House, the Head of State said, "April 27th is exactly 7 days to go, and we gave been gearing ourselves up, getting ourselves ready to introduce the free healthcare package that we believe will impact greatly on the welfare of our people," but he said there were still various aspects to look at, one of which was the state of the health infrastructure "the area you are directly involved in."
President Koroma noted that "I have done an on-the-spot inspection of these facilities; there is work in progress and there is work to be completed.
Commitments were made, promises were made... We know some of the work cannot be completed before the 27th April, but we also provided targets to meet and in some cases there was an alternative plan (Plan B) as agreed by both the ministry officials and the contractors. And the purpose of this meeting is for you to provide me with an update on progress made thus far."
The President then urged that an update be given by region – west, south, east, north, in that order.
It was reported that the contractors have virtually lived up to their commitment of completing the Central Medical Stores at New England in Freetown in three weeks after the President's last visit. The work has been practically completed except for utilities like electricity, which the National Power Authority has promised to get connected in a couple of days. The store is now in use, as containers of drugs are now being stored in it.
The completion of the road to the stores has been delayed by the arrival of the drugs containers, but 80% of the work is already completed.
There was however a complaint from the contractors that only 30% of their revised estimates has been paid, but had to take an overdraft to carry on with the work. The snag was on getting the consultants to approve the estimates before the National Authorising Office (NAO) can authorise payment.
The District Medical Stores at Cline Town, eastern Freetown, have already been completed and the contractors handed over the keys to the Ministry of Health & Sanitation in the presence of all.
The work in Mattru Jong is practically complete and the NAO would formally accept the store on 22nd April.Moyamba and Bo are also practically complete and will be handed over 22nd and 23rd April respectively. The work in Pujehun has lagged behind and the NAO has written a letter to the contractors terminating the project. There's an evaluation process for the Bonthe Government Hospital, and in two weeks a contract would be given for its refurbishment.
Kenema is practically complete and would be handed over on 22nd April. Kailahun is complete and keys will be handed over on 21st April.The medical store for Kono is virtually completed and will be handed over on the 22nd April.
There was a consensus that the contractor for Kono Government Hospital had reneged on his commitment to complete the work if two hundred and fifty million Leones was handed over to him. The money was given but he did not do the work; he instead tried to trick the consultants into giving him a certificate of completion which was denied. The Ministry of Health & Sanitation is writing to the police to take up the matter "as state money cannot be squandered without the law taking its course." The contractor is the parliamentary leader of the opposition Sierra Leone's People's Party (SLPP), Hon. Emmanuel Tommy.
The stores in Makeni, Magburaka, Port Loko and Kambia are complete. The one in Kabala is delayed but is expected to be completed before the end of June, the eight staff quarters in Kabala have been completed, and all the beds needed for the hospital have been supplied
The Ministry reported that a maintenance and engineering team is currently in the field installing equipment and repairing others, while they are at the same time expecting a team from Ghana this week to assist in the process.
All the twelve World-Bank-funded health centres have been completed and ready for handing over Drugs It was reported that the Central Medical Stores has thus far received twenty (20) containers of drugs, and distribution has already been made to Kailahun, Kambia, and Kenema, while lorries were now leaving for Pujehun and Moyamba. A few containers are still held up the quay on procedural grounds. The military were reported to have played a key role in the distribution as they provided four trucks and security, while promising to provide ten more trucks for further distribution.
In admonishing the consultants and contractors, President Koroma commended the contractors for the Kenema and Kailahun projects, SADAQ, for delivering on their promise to complete the work on the stipulated time: "When someone does a good job, he must be commended; but a bad job must be denounced." The President also thanked the contractors for the western area, NIMO, who have also "to a large extent" lived up to expectations. "We still have good contractors; not all is bad" the President noted, "but if we get to the point of blacklisting others, we will do it so that serious contractors will continue in nation-building."
The President said he was generally pleased with the work thus far, while he urged the contractors to aspire for higher heights and show increasing levels of commitment, calling for a change of attitudes in the way they do their bidding to outwit other competitors only to come back later and revise the original estimates to reflect exorbitant changes. "We are not running a galloping inflation economy. Let's take a professional approach to our job, do the costing right and do the work well," he admonished.
The Head of State urged them to stop thinking small and individualistic, but to form bigger companies and be multi-national, citing the example of Senegalese construction companies that are spreading internationally. "But if you go there to make a quick kill – just to buy a jeep and get a small office, you are not only undermining your own efforts but the national development agenda.
There has to be a change of attitudes," President Koroma asserted, while noting that the contractors' job is a capital-intensive one that should be gearing for 'big time' work: "You should come together, and form bigger groups, so that you can move from a particular class to a higher level...Go for bigger contracts, employ more Sierra Leoneans, and leave institutions behind you."
The President hoped that "we will all work together in the interest of our nation.... We, as a government, will continue to insist that Sierra Leonean companies are given contracts, but we will at the same time ensure that everyone lives up to expectation."
The meeting was also attended by Vice President Sam Sumana, Deputy Minister of Health & Sanitation Mohamed D. Koroma, senior officials of the ministry and the National Authorising Office.
THE PRESS SECRETARIAT
21 APRIL 2010
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