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Sierra Leone News: As Ag Finance Minister visits Hillside by-pass road…CSE says compensation may affect completion

The Country Director of engineering firm CSE, Amadu Gaye has told the Deputy Finance Minister Patricia Lavalie that they cannot deliver as planned on the Hillside-By-Pass Road because of issues with compensation for properties on the right of way. The Deputy Finance Minister made an on the spot visit to the project site, last Friday 19 October. She questioned the progress made so far and asked “ …what would have changed when we come back in December?”  The contract for the Hillside By-pass road was signed in July 2015 but the project only started in November 2016. even though works started the project at that time was not on a full scale because portion of the road were still having challenges. Amadu Gaye, Country Director of CSE, reiterated that it is difficult for them to complete the work in time because of the challenge of compensation for some properties that are in the right of way. The contractor explained that they have to do earth works on two sections along the road and that most of the materials required are tied to those sections. Mohamed Sow, CSE Project Manager said those people residing on the right-of-way needs to be compensated, as some areas needed to be filled with earth which needs to be extracted from the right-of-way. Sow warned that if they extract without relocating the residents they will be in danger, so he cautioned that they have to be moved away to allow them demolish those houses and extract the soil for backfill. The Deputy Minister then asked about the availability of the CSE quarry, and Ing. Arthur Davies, Project Manager from the Sierra Leone Roads Authority (SLRA) responded that the laterite soil which they need can be obtained from one position but they are trying to establish a pit at Fourah Bay College. “This sloop has to be brought up to a certain level, it is not going to be steep … it will be raised to the height of the retaining wall.” According to Davies, the compensation challenge is not only limited to funds but the provision of land at Yams Farm which had been promised to the affected households, but which they are yet to receive. The cash compensation he disclosed has been paid to about 90% of households. The Minister said the government wants to decongest Kissy Road, and therefore wants the road to be completed quickly. The expected completion date for the project is May 2019, which means that CSE have seven months to complete and connect to Bai Bureh Road. The CSE Project Manager Sow, was however quick to point out that, even though that was the original plan, but that is no longer feasible now because they have already lost a lot of time since the signing of the contract. Sow promised that by December 2018 there will be some progress but that is predicated on the compensation payment for those occupying the right-off way coupled with the 33% payment arrear from government. “if this is not honoured by government it is going to be a huge challenge” he said. Director Aruna at the Ministry of Finance affirmed that the challenge for the contractor is the arrears from government that have not been paid. He explained that, at some point of the project there was not enough money from the donors to carry on the civil works and government wanted the work to go on. The Kuwait Fund for Development decided to fund the remaining part of the road. However, only 67% of the certificate and they were unable to get other donors to come in for the remaining 33 %. This he said was when government said they would pay, but which they are yet to honour. The second phase accounts for US$28 million which certificate was split into two. So the first advance payment of 67% was worked out and sent to Kuwait. The donor paid, then it was government own side that was outstanding. “We are now on certificate number five, so four plus this five is still outstanding for the government” he said. The Minister then asked if the said arrear is being reflected in the current package that the government is working out for CSE? They said yes, and she urged them to ensure that the figures for the remaining cost for compensation are submitted to her office not later than Wednesday 24 October, because they are reviewing payments. Prince Coker, resident engineer from SLRA, said that the company is now preparing for program works as most of the retaining works have been done, but there are still few more to go and culverts have been put across the road. With more concrete works remaining they are trying to secure an area where they will get the materials for the field, on to the base of the road which needs laterite and crushed rocks. “But these would have to come later as we need to stabilise the road first, on the left we make sure that there is a retaining wall, and the right side we are doing stone pitching.” Prince added that the phase two will take the road on to Bai Bureh Road instead of Blackhall Road which is two lane, so the road being constructed is a four lane. It was reviewed for it to be added to Bai Bureh Road, “we noticed that it is unwise to have a four lane going into a two lane” he said.

Monday October 22, 2018.

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