Prevalence Of Job Scarcity As Nearly 100 Contractors Scramble For 6 Projects In Port Loko

By Hassan Bruz
Northern Bureau Chief
The exodus of Contractors from several parts of the Country to the Northern District of Port Loko for the Bid Opening ceremony organised by the National Commission for Social Action [NaCSA], can be described as another battle for survival of the fittest. No one can actually tell how 6 Projects can be shared amongst 100 Bidders. Whether the award would be based on merit or ‘connectocracy’ is a question of – let’s wait and see. What is safe to say at the moment is the level of joblessness in the Country. I will certainly not comment on how the award would go and who has come from where to get what. One certain thing a Bidder should remain mindful of, is that there are rules and regulations to such a game. Pointless to say there are bound to be foul kicks here and there either on the side of the supervisory body or the Bidders themselves.
Some of the things that have so far come in the open are the apparent lack of humanitarian feeling on the side of the Organisers of the Bid opening ceremony. They could not even see the need to provide mere refreshment to the bidders or those invited to witness the ceremony. Even though the Bid Opening Process lasted for almost the entire day with no provision for water to drink, the heartlessness of the Port Loko NaCSA Office Staff was further demonstrated by the awkward manner in which the Bid Documents were arranged. Either it was deliberate or a genuine mistake on the side of the District Coordinator and his Assistant, the fact remained that certain Documents which supposed to be under a particular Project were later discovered to have been registered elsewhere. There was also the issue of some Bidders who represented and signed for up to 4 or 5 Bids.
In any case, the advertisement was made, applications tendered, applicants were shortlisted and a date was scheduled for the Opening of Bids. The turnout was so massive that most Contractors could hardly find a space to pack their cars. The NaCSA Office at Falaba in Port Loko which served as the venue for the Bid Opening was jam-packed. In fact the entire place was brimful of Contractors, Well-wishers and Observers. Apart from the quantum of money involved, one would have thought it is prudent enough for the organisers to help people quench their thirst with water especially when it was a daylong programme. But that was never the case. The few packets of water were limited to just those on the high table.
The actual amount of money slated for these Projects is 51Million Dollars. This was confirmed by the Project Director –Sheku Tejan Kamara. He catalogued them under the Sierra Leone Community Driven Development [SLCDD 2] ‘Quick Wins’ Sub Project with funds from the Islamic Development Bank. Mr. S T Kamara said these Quick Wins Sub- Projects are to be implemented by NaCSA and are scheduled for a period of 5 years. He said the ultimate aim is to improve the infrastructural development in Rural Communities.
These Projects have to do with the construction of Schools and Community Health Posts in Dibia and Burreh Kasseh Maconteh Chiefdoms. It comprised 6 Projects and 3 for each of the 2 Chiefdoms. According to the analysis, a Community Health Post will be re-constructed in Mange and Kagbathama Communities together with the re-construction of the SLMB School in the Burreh Kasseh Maconteh Chiefdom. The other 3 Projects will see the re-construction of the SLMB Primary Schools at Gbinti and Rogbinthon in the Dibia Chiefdom.
As expanded by the Programme Manager- Mr. Sengu Fofana, the National Commission for Social Action [ NaCSA] has about 200 Projects to implement Nationwide. He said Tonkolili, Moyamba, Kenema and Port Loko are the 4 Districts to benefit from this Program. He therefore assured Contractors that the Process of Biding is in accordance with the principles of National Procurement and that it will be fair and transparent. The Bid Form, Registration Certificates from the Port Loko District Council, National Revenue Authority, NASSIT and the Bid Price were some of the key requirements. Each Bid Envelop is confirmed sealed before it could be opened for validation.
Meanwhile the Deputy District Council Chairman – Ibrahim Santigie Bangura and the Deputy Director of Education- Joseph Balla Sesay have expressed delight over the proposal to re- construct Schools and Community Health Posts in some of the deprived Localities in the District. They viewed it as a timely intervention and entertained optimism that the successful Bidders shall measure up to the expected standards. They zeroed in their separate remarks, with an appeal to the Authorities in the respective Localities to serve as watchdogs. But as retorted by some observers, there can hardly be any difference if the same old pattern of percentages is not discouraged.
It will interest you to know that one can only be declared a Bid winner after he or she has consented to offer a huge sum of money to the Authorities. The amount could sometimes be so huge that the Contractor most times is unable to complete the work or ended up doing a substandard job. But can that be the case in these well funded Projects? Well, as earlier stated, it is a matter of wait and see. The Photos below might help you to imagine how the Bid opening for the SLCDD2 ‘Quick Wins’ Sub Project went in Port Loko.......

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