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Matotoka-Sefadu road rehab project reviewed

- completion deadline may be missed

February 10, 2016 By Sayoh Kamara

At the ongoing National Portfolio Review of Development Projects funded by development partners at the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development (MoFED), the Matotoka-Sefadu road project was reviewed and it was observed that if appropriate modalities are not put in place the project will not be completed against the stipulated end time.

The review was conducted on the Matotoka-Yeyi section of the project which stretches 70km. The project has three components and subdivided into civil works, consultancy services and project audit.

The civil works component includes: the rehabilitation of 70km of road (Section 1) between Matotoka and Yiye, rehabilitation of 20km of feeder road and rehabilitation of social infrastructure including, 3 schools, 1 market and 1 hospital.

The consultancy  services component includes: environmental and social impact mitigation measures, supervision of civil works, monitoring and evaluation, sensitisation of project area inhabitants on TB, HIV/AIDS and STIs; malaria and water related diseases; ownership and environmental protection, and sensitization of project area inhabitants on road safety, which the audit component comprises the financial and technical aspects of the project.

The project was launched on 26th July 2013 and the first payment disbursement to the contract made on 21st November 2013, and it is expected to be completed on 6th November 2016. However, this date has been extended by 11 months because of the lull in the project works caused by the Ebola outbreak. It is therefore expected to be completed on 6th November 2017. The Salini Impregilo S.p.A is the contractor and the entire project costs US$23,010,334.70 (twenty-three million, ten thousand, three hundred and thirty-four US dollars).

A total of 42km of road has been completed and the culverts along that section of the road are 100% complete with only inlet and outlet protection works ongoing. The rehabilitation of deep culverts and construction of social infrastructure are ongoing, while rehabilitation works are 40% completed.

According to the Project Manager at the Sierra Leone Roads Authority (SLRA), the project is encountering technical, management and financial challenges. Among other challenges, he mentioned that there were design inadequacies during the design of the project, which led to its review and modification of the design. This, he maintained, slowed down earlier progress of the project. He also mentioned “low community and other key stakeholder involvement in the planning stage”, and the non-availability of baseline data to establish the social and environmental impacts of the project, inadequate donor coordination and the lack of support to the Project Implementing Unit.

He highlighted delays in the processing and withdrawal of applications of Contractor/Consultant’s IPCs/Invoices, etc., because of many intermediary points and the late payment of compensation and its financial implications, which he said caused delays in handing over of the site.

A major observation by the African Development Bank (AfDB) staff during the review was that a meeting of all stakeholders of the project should sit around the table “to look at the bigger picture of the project and its players so as to be able to identify issues that are bottlenecks in the project’s processing line to avoid blame game”.

According to the AfDB, such a move will ensure that all the players in the project are on the same level of understanding of what is happening along the project line and workflow. It therefore insists that the Project Manager should hold contractors liable and responsible for their work plans if they do not meet deadlines, and that certificate of extension should be a matter of last resort in extreme case scenarios, noting that for any extension, there is a cost implication incurred by the donor and counterpart funders.

In view of these and other challenges discussed, the following recommendations were reached for the attention of stakeholders: to build the capacity of implementing agencies’ in-house staff to be able to review designs submitted by consultants; a thorough sensitization to be done during appraisal stages and to involve community and key stakeholders; to conduct a proper sensitization to enable beneficiaries identify their priority needs with respect to the available budget; ensure community consultations and coordination with other donor agencies at planning stage; streamline payment process to avoid delays and intensive follow-ups on the part of line ministries.

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