You are here: HomeNews2002 05 03Article 23768

General News of Friday, 3 May 2002

Source: Chronicle

Wereko-Brobby Milking Cash-Strapped VRA

In What looks like extravagant use of its limited funds, the Volta River Authority (VRA) is renovating and refurnishing a residence at the cost of at least ?400million for its chief executive, Dr. Charles Yves Wereko Brobby.

Following at the heels of similar renovations allegedly done on two bungalows at Akuse and Kumasi for the same man, and coming at the time when the VRA is calling for hikes in electricity tariffs, the latest renovation has thrown hundreds of the VRA workers into fury.

In fact some union members at the place have built a 13-charge docket including the renovation of the building and managed to land the complaints on the table of the President, Chronicle learnt.

Dr. Brobby, looking unpurturbed however told this reporter that “I have done nothing against corporate policy.”

Far from dissipating public resources, he maintained, he rather had taken steps to protect state property, by maintaining it.

The Chief Executive’s (CE) bungalow with the street number 14 Jawarhalal Nehru Road is located at Cantonments here in Accra.

Until about seven months ago, it was occupied by the immediate past C.E , Mr. G.O. Dokyi.

As is the tradition at VRA, before Mr. Dokyi moved in, the place was rehabilitated costing hundreds of millions of cedis.

While those living in the neighbourhood put the last renovation date at the end of year 2000, the Director of Real Estate Department of the Authority, Rev. Ghansah, explained that it was done about two and a half years ago.

Asked why the need for another rehabilitation of the place in such a relatively short time, both schedule officer and CE indicated that a “combination of shoddy work and lack of maintenance” sank the place into deterioration in such a time.

Pictures purported to have been taken before the latest renovation started portrayed No. 14 as covered in green algae and spirogyra; roofs were leaking and staircases were dilapidated.

In spite of the deplorable condition, Mr. Dokyi allegedly stayed in the bungalow and never bothered to initiate its maintenance.

Rather, when he was leaving he invoked the conditions of service in the VRA and swept along virtually all items in the house.

Documents sighted by the Chronicle showed that furniture, air-conditioners, kitchen wares and even brooms were taken along by Mr. Dokyi.

The VRA valued all those items, rather conservatively, at ?153million.

In the words of Dr. Wereko Brobby, the current renovation will cost at least ?40million but that will be only about 20% of what it will cost to refurnish the rooms.

Chronicle independent assessment, however, showed that whereas the structural works and electrical fittings would cost over ?100 million, refurnishing the place could be more than ?300 million.

When our reporters visited Cantonments early this week, additional bathrooms had been built; tiles were growing along all the walls of the bathhouses and kitchens.

Electrical fittings were being changed, new railings had been fitted and the place already looked gorgeous.

The structural works were being done by Dumakwae Co. Ltd. of Accra New Town, while Supercare Ltd., also of Accra, busied itself with the electrical fittings.

One striking observation was that Supercare was the same company that VRA used to redesign the 11th floor of its block into a Secretariat, throwing the staff and computers of what had been the Management Information system department out - as reported in our January 25 edition.

Aggrieved workers put the cost of that Secretariat at ?645 million.

Supercare Ltd is owned by Oppong-Bio, a board member of Ghana COCOBOD and said to be a staunch financier of the ruling New Patriotic Party and a friend of Tarzan.

The issue of rampant renovations, starting from the Akuse bungalow continuing with a Kumasi residence and now on the official residence of the CE was put to Dr. Wereko Brobby.

He denied the Akuse and Kumasi management guesthouses being renovated under his administration.

Countering, he said some VRA officials had been having fun in the organisation’s buildings or hiring them out illegally for their personal gains.

“And if I take steps to protect those facilities they begin to cook stories about me.”

Asked to speak to the contention that he is being extravagant at a time when VRA is calling for increased tariffs with the claim that it is making losses, this was his answer.

“You know VRA has a policy whereby any staff retiring takes away all the state belongings in his residence. When we took over the residence after Dokyi left, there was no broom left behind. That is the policy of VRA.”

Pressed to say whether he considered such a policy prudent he said he was not in favour personally.

Other bones of contention between a section of the workers and Charlie Brobbs including alleged arbitraries, spending sprees and importation of computers for an electrification project without going through necessary tendering are being investigated.