Feature Article of Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Columnist: Tawiah, Benjamin Kwame

Kufuor Govt Disregarded Public Procurement Law - Waterville

In a press statement issued today, Waterville says it has become necessary to address the statements being circulated about the alleged wrongdoing by Waterville Holdings (BVI) Limited (“Waterville”) in the contracts awarded by the Government of the Republic of Ghana (“GoG”) for the rehabilitation of the Ohene Djan, El Wak and Baba Yara sports stadia for the hosting of the 26th Cup of African Nations tournament in Ghana in the year 2008 (“CAN 2008”).

It is our aim to lay before the public in a clear and succinct manner the full facts as follows:

1. Waterville, through an open, fair and international bidding process and in compliance with Ghana’s public procurement law won a contract to construct two (2) new stadia, rehabilitate two (2) more. The construction of a third stadium was added to the scope.
2. In spite of Waterville being given approval for the award of all five (5) stadia the government decided to award two out of the five stadia already awarded to Waterville to Shanghai Construction (Group) General Corporation. The procurement process for the two (2) stadia awarded to Shanghai Construction (Group) General Corporation was not done in compliance with Ghana’s public procurement law.
3. On the strength of MoU’s signed with the government in November 2005 and subsequent contracts signed on 26th April 2006, and given the very tight time frames to complete the stadia in time for the CAN 2008 Football games, Waterville proceeded to prefinance and start the rehabilitation of the three stadia.
4. After the majority of the procurement process of materials and equipment was completed by Waterville and substantial progress made by Waterville in progressing the rehabilitation of the three stadia, the government decided to cancel its contract obligations with Waterville, on August 2006.
5. As a consequence of expenditures already made by Waterville at the time of the government’s cancellation of the contract, Waterville made an immediate claim for reimbursement of the amounts it had already spent towards its execution of the contract. It has to be noted that the Government’s Consultant verified and certified the value of works provided by Waterville to be a total of Euros 21,569,946.71
6. Waterville asked the Government to advance some funds from its certified certificates of works so to pay the subcontractors and allowing them to continue the works to achieve the target of October 2007 with no delay.-
7. It was only through a mediation process, referenced within the contract that Waterville got paid after several years by the government an amount of Euros 25,000,000 to cover the balance of reimbursement owed, late payment interest and penalties against losses incurred by Waterville.

On the issue of the double payment which is being alleged by all sorts of people, note that, part payment of Waterville certificate was paid directly to the sub-contractors to enable them continue with the contract to achieve the target of October 2007 with no delay., Waterville has pursued the government of the Republic of Ghana since 2006 for the outstanding balance which had remained unpaid.
Such amount were duly deducted from Waterville certificates and an outstanding balance remained unpaid to which damages and accrued interest were added to compensate the loss sustained by the company.
There has been nothing illegal or improper about Waterville’s actions, or decisions in competing for, executing or laying claims for cancellation of the contract to construct and refurbish five stadia. The company has only sought full compensation for the work it did and the losses it incurred as a result of the government’s actions in cancelling its contract.

Despite the constant expression of willingness on the part of GoG to resolve the matter amicably, no further payments, directly or indirectly, were ever made prior to the change of government on 7th January 2009. Thereafter, Waterville asserted its continued claim for what was lawfully outstanding under the contracts. In view of failure to settle the matter through negotiations and pursuant to the dispute settlement procedure provided under the contracts, Waterville through its solicitors requested for the matter to be determined by mediation.

Waterville and the GoG acting through the AG submitted themselves to the mediation process, the outcome of which was a settlement agreement dated 13th October 2010 pursuant to which Waterville was paid Euros 25,000,000 in full and final satisfaction of all claims against the GoG in respect of the contracts. This sum did not include any of the amounts paid to the Subcontractors on Waterville’s behalf.

It is evident that the settlement and subsequent payment was as a result of the mediation and not from a court judgment.

Documents are in the hands of the competent authorities that are still investigating and with whom Waterville is actively working to protect its interests in the legality of the documentation submitted.
There have been speculation and media accusations that Government terminated Waterville’s contacts, how can one terminate a contract if there was no contract?

It is just a simple question.

And it is also unfortunate that there seems to be confusion in people’s mind bearing on the relationship between Mr. Alfred Agbesi Woyome’s case and that of Waterville. Ladies and Gentlemen, Please note that the matters are separate and distinct.

Somehow events pertaining to payments received by Mr. Alfred Woyome appear to have gotten somewhat confused with that of Waterville’s legitimate and legal claim from government. It is also important to clarify the relationship and involvement of Mr. Alfred Woyome in the securing of the contract for the stadia, the execution of the contract up to the time that it was withdrawn by the government.

1. M-Powopak, a firm represented by Mr. Alfred Woyome, was hired for a fee by Waterville to provide financial advisory and consulting services for a limited period to assist in Waterville financing the stadia contract. Waterville made full payment to M-Powpack and Mr. Woyome for their services. Waterville terminated their services and the end of the period as far back as 2006. Mr. Woyome had no role in the claims Waterville made to the government for reimbursement or compensation against loss.
2. Mr. Alfred Woyome, separately and independently of Waterville made a claim against the government. Waterville has no role, nor interest in Mr. Woyome’s claim.

The distinction of the two claims has been clearly identified during meetings at the AG’s office in 2009, 2010 where exchanges of documents have supported such position.
Waterville has decided to come forward to dispel the campaign of lies that has been waged against it and has unjustly tarnished the image of Waterville and of its associates that collaborated with Waterville to contribute to the achievement of a significant milestone for the nation.

To conclude, Ladies and Gentlemen let me add a simple statement that:
Apart from the benefits of infrastructural developments, hosting CAN 2008 gave the country’s economy a boost; opened the corridor to develop youth talent in the country; fostered socio-political development on the continent at large; and enhanced the cultural relationship between the people of Ghana and the rest of the continent and the world. Waterville is proud to have been a part of this and wishes to set the record straight so that it is recognised for its participation and efforts to ensure that Ghana was able to host CAN 2008 successfully.

Thank you and God bless all Ghanaians.
Waterville Holdings (BVI) Ltd.