…as contractor’s equipment held at Water Quay
October 7, 2016 By Joseph S. Margai
Efforts to complete the much-talked about BADEA project on time so that students can occupy the hostels before the commencement of next academic year may not come to fruition as equipment belonging to the contractor are held at the Queen Elizabeth II Quay by customs officials, a source has told Concord Times.
The rehabilitation of existing structures and construction of new facilities on Fourah Bay College (FBC) had been slated to be completed within 24 months, after its belated commencement this August, but the refusal of customs officials to release the equipment may mean that the deadline could be missed.
According to our source, ten vehicles belonging to Guinean contractors –SOGEFEL – are being held at the quay by customs authorities who are demanding payment of duties before they would be cleared.
“These goods of the contractors are supposed to have a tax waiver but it’s becoming a bottleneck for us. I have gone to the Ministry of Education and even the Ministry of Finance to help us get a tax waiver clearance so that the goods will be cleared but it’s proving difficult,” said FBC BADEA Project Manager, Sorie Kanu. He added, “Ministry of Education is making efforts to sign a document that I should take to the Ministry of Finance, and afterwards I will take it to the National Revenue Authority (NRA) for the goods to be released from the quay.”
He disclosed that the contractors have taken three weeks removing roofs of some from facilities on FBC campus, noting that there are some facilities that are still occupied by lecturers.
Kanu said the project would have commenced in earnest if the equipment of the contractors had been cleared at the quay, adding though that work is still in progress as they are hoping to complete within the stipulated period.
“The problem is that the project is funded by few Islamic banks and they have always been telling us that they don’t pay tax to clear goods from the customs because they are helping the country with funds to undertake the project.They only pay the contractors, consultants, among others, but they don’t tax for clearance. Though they have not indicated that in the agreement, but they consider such situation to be handled by the government,” he explained.
He added: “As a Project Manager, it should be my responsibility to write for anything that I want for the smooth running of the project. But when I wrote the letter explaining this problem to the Ministry of Education, I was told that the letter should come from the Registrar of the University of Sierra Leone and not me. I have gone to the Registrar, who has hastily written the letter and will take it to the Ministry of Education to sign it.”
Meanwhile, students of Fourah Bay College are calling on the government to fast track the rehabilitation to enable them relocate to campus at the beginning of a new academic year, which is expected to commence in January 2017.