It has emerged that it took a record 24-hour for Ghana’s Public Procurement Authority [PPA] to grant a sole-sourcing approval contract for the 116 public buses that were controversially rebranded by Smarttys at the cost of GHS3.6 million.
Documents covering the deal which were released to Occupy Ghana per a court order, showed the Ministry of Transport on July 28, 2015 applied to the Authority to sole-source the highly criticised contract to Smarttys, and within 24 hours, approval was given in a letter signed by its Chief Executive, Samuel Sallas-Mensah.
The approval letter dated July 29,2015 stated: “after a thorough consideration of your request and the urgency attached, approval is hereby granted Ministry of Transport in accordance with Section 40(1) (b) of Act 663, to sole- source Messrs Smarttys Management and Productions Ltd to rebrand 116 buses at a total estimated cost of GHC3,649,044.75”
But this has raised eyebrows with private legal practitioner, Ace Anan Ankomah questioning the “thorough” work the Authority claim to have done on the said contract before granting the approval for the contract to be sole-sourced.
“Had the PPA merely asked to inspect the buses, it would have discovered that the Ministry was lying and that the branding had been concluded, illegally,” he stated in a Facebook post, adding “Subsequent events have shown that the PPA, at best, did shoddy or no work; or at worst, was complicit it the plot to engage in a corrupt practice”
He wondered why the Authority with all its procurement specialists, could not conduct a market search to determine that the contract sum it approved was “grossly inflated” and “illegally” but rather State Attorneys were the ones to arrive at that conclusion.
“As if this let down of the people of Ghana was not enough, the PPA claimed, nay, BOASTED in its 24-hour miraculous turnaround letter, that its work on the matter (more like non-work) had been “THOROUGH.” That’s the most painful part
Mr. Ankomah said although the size and length of a contract does not necessarily matter, it was scandalous and insulting to Ghanaians that the entire Smartty’s contract was just a single page, with the rest of the pages being signatures and “useless documents” just to pad the contract up.
He described the highly criticised contract as “sweetheart transaction,” which he suggested received an endorsement from the presidency.
“Yes, almost $1m of your money was being frittered away in an illegal sweetheart transaction with the yet-undenied endorsement of the Office of the President (the same Office of the President that ordered the investigation and does not have the courage, spine or testicular fortitude to publish the AG’s report), and they didn’t even bother to get a first-year lawyer to write a half-decent contract,” he stated.
It emerged December last year that the government spent an outrageous GHC3, 649, 004 from the Ghana oil funds to re-branding the 116 Metro Mass Rapid Transit buses; something that attracted hue and cry.
The Chief of Staf, Julius Debrah consequently directed the Attorney General “to review the contract and associated payment(s)”, following public backlash.
A letter dated December 17, 2015 gave the Attorney General, Marrieta Brew Appiah-Oppong, up to December 21, 2015 to submit its findings.
In her report the AG, Mrs. Appiah-Opong found that there were no cost comparisons to what was submitted by the private company, Smartty’s Management, because of the method of procurement and the procedures used.
A statement issued by Mr Debrah said “the procurement method did not also ensure value for money,” and consequently directed the AG to retrieve the GHC1.9 million being what the statement described as “excess payment made for the service rendered”.
“Independent consultations made by the Attorney General with some leading motor firms in the country confirmed that the contract would have been executed at a cheaper cost if other bids were considered and price comparisons made,” the statement said.
Meanwhile, the backlash from the public forced Transport Minister, Dzifa Attivor to resign her ministerial portfolio, and thanked the NDC government for “for the opportunity offered her to serve, first as Deputy Minister of Transport under the late President JEA Mils, and later as the substantive Minister”.
By Stephen Kwabena Effah|3news.com|Ghana