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Music stadium construction project

A case of mismanagement and bad planning — FPAC

fpacThe Finance and Public Accounts Committee of the National Assembly has described the music stadium construction project as one which demonstrates mismanagement and inadequate implementation and planning from the authorities involved.

The above statement concluded yesterday’s FPAC hearing on the Auditor General’s audit report on the music stadium, a project which broke ground in October 2016. The audit was undertaken following a request from the members of the FPAC.

Present for questioning were secretary of state in the Ministry of Finance, Trade, Investment and Economic Planning Patrick Payet; principal secretary for Culture Cecil Kalebi; principal secretary for infrastructure Yves Choppy, principal secretary for finance Damien Thésée; chief executive of the National Arts Council (NAC) Jimmy Savy and cultural advisor Emmanuel D’Offay.

Construction of the music stadium — first conceptualised in 2014 during an exchange between NAC and local artists — initially forecasted a total cost of R5,154,478 for the first phase.

Later requests from the department of culture for amendments in the design and details, mainly in regards to an upgrade of the stage and the main building, in October 2015, drove the estimated cost for the first phase to R13,529,963 — a staggering increase of more than R8 million.

The project was tendered in November 2015 and the resultant contract was awarded on December 2015 to the lowest bidder Allied Builders Seychelles Limited (ABSL) for a sum of R11,048,857.

The proposed project was expected to be completed in three phases starting with the boundary enclosures, gates, building and stage, parking and two sets of sanitary facilities. The second phase focused on expansion of sanitary facilities and parking, while the final phase covered the construction of three buildings for various artistic and cultural activities and showcases.

Honourable Ahmed Afif inquired on the level of consultations between the Ministry for Housing, Lands, Infrastructure and Land Transport (MHILT) — who was responsible for implementing the project — and the department of culture and NAC before the project design was presented to the cabinet of ministers for approval in early 2015.

“Were the department of culture and NAC shown a copy of the designs and documentation, and did they agree that those were exactly the plans they wanted implemented?” Hon Afif asked.

PS Choppy replied that several meetings had occurred between the departments of infrastructure and culture wherein they mostly discussed the site, facilities and the various phases rather than anything tangible.

“The department of culture was onboard with the project but at the very beginning of the project we had still not refined its details,” he added.

Mr Savy confirmed to the FPAC that the NAC and department of culture had not been made privy to the documents that were presented to the cabinet.

Hon. Afif also raised further concerns over the lack of communication between the entities given the gradual decline in progress and technical review meetings which were supposed to be held every month.

“The irregularity of the meetings can be linked to the issue where we had to change the stadium’s roofing. I presume that this was because there were more technical elements going on at the time and this is perhaps why the department of culture became less involved at that stage,” explained PS Choppy.

Another area of concern for the FPAC was the contract signed with ABSL which they requested to receive a copy of at a later date.

Meanwhile PS Choppy explained that the contract drawn up allows for variations in the original bill of quantities with the major variations being minimum labour (R1m) and preliminaries (R1.1m), and the revised costing for the electrical and anti-vandal sanitary wares amounting to R1,768,734 and R784,367 as compared to the original amount of R288,183 and R225,147 respectively.

He further later acknowledged that his ministry believes that the contractor is taking advantage of some of the variations requested by the department of culture to surcharge them.

Other concerns raised by FPAC included an over-payment of R2.3 million to the contractor, the possibility of collusion between MHILT workers and various contractors who are awarded construction bids and repeated instances where contractors over-cost a project’s original estimates.

FPAC chair, Wavel Ramkalawan, rounded off the hearing by expressing FPAC’s intention to meet with the contractor responsible for the music stadium, ABSL.

Sources : Seychelles NATION

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