Freetown, SIERRA LEONE – In a startling revelation, Linnasal Trading and Construction, entrusted with the construction of the Largo Bridge Deck by the Sierra Leone Roads Authority (SLRA), have failed to commence work despite receiving payment. The auditors, during their visit, found no evidence of any construction activities at the designated location.
The contracted emergency work, valued at SLE454,265, was flagged during the verification exercise when auditors discovered that no progress had been made, despite the full contract amount being transferred from the Road Maintenance Fund Administration (RMFA) to the SLRA and subsequently paid to the contractor.
In response, the RMFA, referring to SLRA, claimed that Linnasal Trading had completed the emergency works on the Largo Bridge. However, during audit verification, no tangible evidence of the bridge construction was presented.
Upon further scrutiny of funds transferred from RMFA to SLRA covering various thematic areas such as flash floods, drainage clearing, pre-mixed overlaying, construction of side drains, and retaining wall maintenance in Sarolla and Kissy, auditors recommended implementing verifications before further payments.
The audit team highlighted discrepancies in the construction of side drains and retaining walls at Sarolla, Kissy, where the SLRA awarded a contract to Bimak Company Limited for SLE730,377. Despite the Authority disbursing the full contract sum, auditors found the work unsatisfactory, as retaining walls were not backfilled as specified in the contract.
In the realm of drainage clearing, SLRA awarded contracts to different entities for surface and drainage clearing works in Freetown totalling SLE4,598,500. The audit team observed unattended rubble left on sidewalks, risking recurring floods due to abandoned debris. Interviews with residents revealed that some drains were cleared only once, rather than the stipulated twelve-week frequency (May to August 2022) as per the contract agreement.
In response, the RMFA communicated their observations to the SLRA, claiming that the contractor had completed the remedial works. SLRA engineers cited a shortage of vehicles for rubble disposal, which necessitated a phased approach. Despite these explanations, auditors found no evidence of completed backfilling for retaining walls at Sarolla, Kissy, and the drainage clearing issues remained unresolved.
As a result, the RMFA and engineers pledged to ensure thorough verification of SLRA payment requests for these activities before recommending any future disbursements. This revelation underscores the imperative for accountability and oversight in public projects to ensure funds are judiciously spent and projects are completed to the agreed-upon standards. ZIJ/7/2/2024