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General News of Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Source: thefinderonline.com

Veep house saga deepens

INVESTIGATIONS conducted by The Finder have revealed that former Vice-President Paa Kwesi Amissah-Arthur stopped work on the residence of the Vice-President under construction in February 2015 when the cost jumped from the original $3.56m to $13.9m.

Architectural and Engineering Services Limited (AESL) reviewed the cost of the project upwards in August 2014 but Paa Kwesi Amissah-Arthur was not convinced and started asking questions.

Despite queries from the Vice-President, AESL again revised the cost of the project upwards between January and February 2015 and this compelled Paa Kwesi Amissah-Arthur to stop the project.

Even though the project was stopped, AESL in November 2015 again increased the contract sum to $13millon ($13,015,126.09).

In January 2016, AESL again revised the estimates upwards to $15.7million ($15,718,091).

Then barely a month later - in February 2016 – AESL once again reviewed the contract again – this time downwards - to $13.9million ($13,968,252.66).

An AESL document dated February 2016 indicates that a total amount of $8,179,138.95 has been certified for payment with an outstanding amount of $5,789,113.71 left as the value of outstanding works.

According to reliable sources, who pleaded anonymity, the government assisted by National Security, directed restrictive tender and identified three companies, namely: M. Barbisotti & Sons Ltd, EnergoProject, Micheletti & Co. Ltd and Consar Limited, and asked AESL to select the best. Barbisotti did not participate in the final process.

It is learnt that Consar was awarded the contract at the cost of $3.56million ($3,563,884).

According the sources, the office of Chief of Staff took over the project the moment the contract was awarded and all certificates for payment were forwarded to the office of the Chief of Staff for approval before payments were made.

The Finder discovered that the initial contract awarded at the cost of $3.56million comprised $2.487million for the main building, $676,000 for preliminaries, $100,000 for the demolition of the old building and $300,000 for external works.

Cost of Each item - $3.56m

The line items and their costs were: Substructure – $314,013.52, Concrete work – $367,516.90, Blockwork - $129,379.23, Roofing - $103, 503.38, Carpentry - $77, 627.54, Joinery – $250, 826, Metal work – 258, 758.45, Plumbing and Engineering installations – $236, 500, Electrical Installations - $258, 758.45, Finishing - $390, 198.51, Glazing - $11, 875

Painting and decorating – $88, 627.54

In August 2014, AESL reviewed the cost of the project upwards to $13.9 million ($13,968,252.66).

According to the investigations, the two AESL documents - the initial contract valued at $3.56million ($3,563,884) and the document dated February 2016, valued at $13.9million ($13,968,252.66) are both genuine.

What really informed the upward review is yet to be explained as AESL officials could not be reached for comment.

The then Chief of Staff, Mr Prosper Bani, did not answer several calls placed to his phone and did not also reply to a text message sent to his phone seeking clarification about the upward review.

The line items and their costs all changed in the reviewed $13.9million contract.

Cost of Each item - $13.9m

The breakdown in the reviewed contract is as follows: Preliminaries – $678,300, Demolitions – $100,000, Basement - $221,861.42, Ground Floor - $2.3million ($2,367,655.57), First Floor – $1.3million ($1,394,671.85), Second Floor - $167,282.45, and Lift Shaft - $101,810.40, Fence wall - $471,528.27, Horticulture -$137,082, Swimming pool -$124,957.10.

Others are: $12,109.10, Out House - $409,858.19, Office of the Second Lady - $716,901.04, Lounge – $160,263.36, Sundries - $53,698.77, Electrical Installations - $2.4million ($2,415,379.55), Air Conditioning and other Mechanical Installations - $991,896.68, Lift Installations - $195,600, Soft Furnishing - $440,000, and Road, Pavements - $330,000 and Balustrades - $55,000.

An amount of $1million dollars was added to the actual cost of the project under the title External Works.

The cost of various variations are: Variations ordered to date – $778,001.25, External Electrical Works - $77,371.76, Sculpture and Emblems - $25,566.54, Stone Facing works – $55,300, Hardwood Panel Doors - $88,157.36 and other anticipated variations $400,000.

The emergence of these documents put the National Democratic Congress (NDC), which vehemently rejected the $14million cost put out by Vice- President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia last week and accused him of petty politicking, in a very obscure corner.

The Deputy Minority Leader, James Klutse Avedzi, chastised the Vice-President for his claim that the Mahama administration blew $13.9 million on the official residence of the Vice-President, which is still under construction.

Former Presidential staffer Dr. Clement Apaak and Member of Parliament for Builsa South, however, claimed that $5.9millon was budgeted for the house and not $13.9 million as had been alleged by the Vice-President.

“An amount of $5.9million is what has been budgeted for the putting up of the Vice-President’s residence and not $13 million. There is an attempt (by the NPP) perhaps to try to shift attention from their promises. It was Amissah-Arthur (former Vice-President) himself who briefed Dr. Bawumia on the project and mentioned to him that no further payment has been made,” Mr Apaak stressed.

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