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Purchase of 100 buses

Procurement officer admits violation of methods

June 20, 2019

By Alhaji Sani

Head of Procurement Unit in the Ministry of Transport and Aviation, from 2013 to date, Unisa Dumbuya, has testified before Justice William Atuguba’s Commission of Inquiry that the former Minister of Transport and Aviation, Leonard Balogun Koroma violated the procurement procedures in the purchase of 100 buses.

“My roles among others were the planning of procurement within the ministry, preparation of the invitation of bids and standard documents, safeguarding of bids submitted and serving as a secretary to the Procurement Committee,” he said.

The witness said as head of procurement unit and secretary to the procurement committee,he was never aware of the procurement of the 100 buses until the acting chairman of the Procurement Committee Tommy T. Tengbeh informed the committee in a meeting that the Law Officers Department refused to let the draft contract of the 100 buses because Section 46 and 47 of the Procurement Act of 2004 were not complied with.

According to Dumbuya, procurement related matters were discussed within the ministry for a review and approval of draft contract for the supply of 100 buses and equipment for the Sierra Leone Road Transport Cooperation(SLRTA), but that the Law Officers Department had stated that the procurement of the 100 buses was based on Sole-sourcing.

“Chairman of the Procurement of the 100 buses also presented an express approval from the Minister of Transport to  ex-President Earnest Bai Koroma for the purchase to be made from PolyTechnologies Incooperation Group in China.

Dumbuya said procurement cycle showed how procurement is carried out within Ministries, Departments and Agencies.

He explained that the first stage involves planning of procurement, followed by sourcing or bid soliciting and the finally the disposal evaluation stage.

He added that if there were exceptional factors to the normal process, special meeting would be held to give guidelines.

According to the witness, they agreed to use sole-sourcing method in one of their meetings because of the high demand of transportation at that time.

“No prior meeting was held for the approval of the sole-sourcing. Only that letter was written to the National Public Procurement Authority(NPPA)  for non-objection to the sole-sourcing. The NPPA granted the approval of the sole-sourcing with some conditions, which were never met by the ministry,” he said

He noted that 12.2 USD was used to purchase the buses, but the sum must be paid by the SLRTA to the Ministry of Finance.

Meanwhile, another witness, Alhaji Abubakar Carew, who was the Permanent Secretary at the said ministry from 14th April 2014 to 12 April 2017 was responsible for the day-to-day running of the ministry, vault controller and was responsible for final drafting of cabinet memoranda.

“During my tenure as permanent secretary, I was informed about latest development in the ministry including the proposed purchase of 100 buses,” he testified

The witness said he requested to forward some document to the Law Officers Department for vetting and approval of the budget for the purchase of 100 buses.

When he was asked as to how many buses were bought, he declined knowledge on the exact figure, thus noting that he never saw any document to confirm the number of buses.

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