…but students may occupy hostels before completion date
July 13, 2016 By Joseph S. Margai
The long awaited BADEA project, which is geared towards rehabilitating and constructing additional facilities on Fourah Bay College (FBC) campus, would be completed within 24 months, although students may occupy the hostels before the completion date.
This was disclosed to Concord Times by the BADEA Project Manager, Sorie Kanu, at his Block H office on Fourah Bay College campus last Friday.
He said the project would on Friday, 15 July, sign a contract with a Guinean company, which has been chosen to refurbish hostels at FBC.
He disclosed that the project would be financed by a ‘soft loan,’ with low interest spanning fifteen years.
Quizzed about the name of the company that has been contracted to do the job, he refrained from naming it because according to him, it would be technically unwise to mention the company when the contract was yet to be signed.
“The reason is that anything could happen because the company has to satisfy one thing, which is its performance bond. And if there is no performance bond, then the signing of the contract will not take place,” he explained.
Asked how many months will the project last for, the BADEA Project Manager disclosed that it’s a 24 month project, albeit with a grace period of 28 days to allow the contractors to mobilise their equipment on the site.
He however expressed optimism that the contractors could start work before 28 days because of their proximity to Sierra Leone and that mobilising their equipment would be easier.
Questioned about the areas of intervention of this project, Kanu disclosed that it would rehabilitate all the existing hostels and construct four new ones, a new 40 bed clinic, two lecture theatres, three canteens, a multi-purpose hall, a gym, a bakery, rehabilitation and construction of staff quarters, and a School of Architecture which would award degrees in the discipline.
“When you have a very good learning environment, education can be enhanced,” he said.
He disclosed that the School of Architecture had always been part of the Faculty of Engineering and Architecture, but university authorities now want it to be independent and that the project would provide for that.
He said as Project Manager, he faces constraints, particularly with funders of project because procurement requests sometimes take at least a month before they could be processed, thus blaming it for the delay to start the project.
Unconfirmed reports have indicated that authorities of the University of Sierra Leone have siphoned money meant for the project, but the Project Manager debunked such, adding that money for the project was yet to be disbursed and that the financiers would directly remit funds to service providers.
“If anyone supplies a chair or anything for this project, the funders will pay directly into the account of that service provider. The money doesn’t pass through any Sierra Leonean. So all those rumours that we have eaten the money are misleading,” Kanu categorically stated.
Asked if there was enough land to build on, the Project Manager said FBC used to have over 500 acres of land, adding that due to encroachment only 436 acres was now available, which is more than enough for the project.
He disclosed that students would not have to wait until 24 months to occupy the refurbished hostels as the project would commence with the rehabilitation of existing hostels.
Prices of goods, including building materials, in the country have recently skyrocketed due to high inflation, but the Project Manager allayed fears that it would affect the project because cost was pegged on the dollar.
“This project is a dollar project, the funders are always paying in dollar. The only Leones the project will be having are what the Government of Sierra Leone will have to provide. The government has to pay 10 percent of this USD36.5m and of course it will have to pay in Leones,” he disclosed, adding that would be tied to exchange rate of the US dollar.
Meanwhile, Vice Chancellor and Principal of the University of Sierra Leone, Prof. Ekundayo Thompson, disclosed to this reporter in an interview last week that the refurbished hostels would be outsourced once they are completed.
“The reason why we have to outsource the hostels is to ensure their sustainability. Students’ vandalism on these hostels is one of the reasons for their deplorable conditions. But if they are outsourced, the contractors will ensure that much damage is not caused to them,” he said.