Park-side Limited, a construction company, has abandoned a GH¢503, 935.08 worth of contract for the construction of a public place of convenience (KVIP) at the Suhum Market (Event Centre) in the Eastern Region due to failure to conduct due diligence before commencement of work, leaving residents and traders with no alternative for a place of convenience for over a year since the one they were dependent on got demolished for the new one.
Corruption Watch (CW) investigations found that negligence on the part of the contractor, site engineer, and the Assembly resulted in this situation, leading to financial loss to the state and its private partner.
The project is part of the Ghana First Toilet initiative in which the company entered into a Public-Private Partnership with Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assembles to construct these facilities nationwide in which the Government of Ghana and Ghana First Company Limited will have a 30%/70% ownership for 30 years respectively.
The exact spot for the construction of the facility had an 11,000 volts power cable sited there before construction started, hence the structure was constructed under the high tension.
The structure as it developed further eventually had the high tension passing directly on top of it; hence no further work or roofing could take place.
The 20-unit project, awarded to Park-side Limited by Ghana First Company Limited, came to a halt after a carpenter, Vincent Ayitey Nyanyo was electrocuted while working on the structure. He fell from the top of the building and was rendered unconscious for days.
The contractor, thus, abandoned the project pending a removal and relocation of the entire high tension cable and pole by Power Distribution Services (PDS).
Before the construction, there was an existing 20-seater public toilet facility at the same place which was smaller in size and shorter in height, hence did not have challenges with the high tension but was pulled down to make way for the modern facility which is wider and extends to the space of the high tension.
The old 20-seater washroom, CW gathered, was constructed few years earlier but was in bad state, leading to the decision to get it pulled down and replaced with a modernised one.
The new structure also has a 20-seater Water Closet facility but in addition has bathrooms, urinals, a dressing room, a laundry room and two extra rooms to be used as stores.
Speaking in an interview with the contractor, Nana Asiedu Sarfo, he disclosed that he didn’t envisage that the building would get that close to the high tension, adding that, that was the location given his company by the Assembly for the construction.
He told CW that “I didn’t know the structure will get that close to the high tension and I have many contracts I’m working on at the same time so have not been able to visit this particular Event Centre to see the level of destruction myself.”
The contractor was awarded four of such contracts located at Suhum Oforikrom, Suhum Event Centre, Jei-Krodua and Amanfrom.
Project site after incident
After the electrocution incident, the project was abandoned leaving the mixed cement and sand, concrete mixer, heap of sand, chippings, polytank, wood and blocks at the site for over 10 months although the project was originally slated to be built and completed in three months.
To fix the mess, the engineer on site, George Pitin and the Assemblyman for the area, Alex K. Darko, have contacted Power Distribution Services (PDS) for the high tension to be relocated to make way for the continuation of the construction.
When CW contacted Michael Baah, Eastern Regional General Manager of the Electricity Company/PDS on the subject, he disclosed that it was the responsibility of the contractor to write an official letter to the PDS for examination of the project site immediately they noticed there was a high tension passing through that section of the land before the start of the project.
This, he said, was to identify if it was possible for the high tension to be relocated to make way for the construction or advise for the selection of a completely different location for the construction.
“These things are not as simple as come and relocate the high tension, it was dangerous to even choose that location for a construction because the high tension was there first. This is 11,000 volts high tension, if 3,000 volts can kill humans imagine what 11,000 volts can do, that’s how dangerous their choice of project site was.
“First we have to visit the site to see if it is possible to relocate because relocation means acquiring a safe land/path to site them, you can’t just move them onto someone’s land because that is their private property and they are dangerous and that will cost a lot of money,” he stated.
Refusing to take responsibility
According to PDS, if after assessment it is realised that a relocation is possible, PDS will not bear the cost, the contractor will have to bear the cost.
Meanwhile, the contractor indicated while speaking to CW that he was not ready to bear the cost.
From his point of view, Ghana First would have to take that cost. “when we contacted PDS for the relocation, they were mentioning huge sums of money, I have spoken to Ghana First about it I can’t go ahead to pay the amount until they officially agree to bear the cost,” he added.
Ghana First Company Ltd
When CW contacted Ghana First Company Limited, the Chief Executive Officer, Frank Akuley acknowledged knowing about a halt in the project but was shocked to know it has still not been solved.
According to him, the contractor breached the contract term which required him to commence construction only after the site had been visited and approved by their engineers, this he said could have avoided the current predicament if the contractor had adhered to the requirement.
“For the avoidance of doubt, you shall commence construction after possession of the site only in the presence of Ghana First Company Limited engineers,” the code read.
Mr Akuley, however, disclosed that his firm was ready to bear the cost of relocating the high tension if PDS approves.
“The harm has already been done, paying for the relocation will definitely cost lower than pulling the building down so we will pay for it and someone has to sacrifice his profit,” he said.
Victim of electrocution
The victim survived the life threatening electrocution but was left with deformities.
He has since not received any form of compensation, 10 months after the incident.
Source: Francisca Enchill/Corruption Watch, Ghana