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Sierra Leone Business: In the last three years…RMFA emergency expenditure rose from Le733m to Le9.6bn

The Technical Audit Report 2019 observed that the Road Maintenance Fund Administration (RMFA) had no guidelines for handling emergency maintenance projects. According to the auditors, in the past 3 years, the expenditure for emergency projects rose 13 times from Le 733 million to Le 9.6 billion in 2016 with a decline in 2017 to Le 4.9 billion. RMFA has been requested in different times to finance emergency roads maintenance projects which are part of their mandate as a road related activity. With this significant increase in the expenditure of emergency roads maintenance, it is the observation of the auditors that RMFA was supposed to have a guideline that would be followed whenever there is an emergency project to avoid any misappropriation of funds under the umbrella of emergency projects. The current PPME Manual does not only provide for how the emergency project would be handled but also does not mention them as part of the project to be guided by the current manual. Consequently, RMFA was said to have been involved in financing projects which do not address the main objectives of establishing RMFA. For instance, in 2015, RMFA was involved in financing emergency clearing of landfill and debris at Granville dumpsite. These projects did cost RMFA Le 4,850,200,000.00.  Furthermore, it was noted that there is no clear justification on whether the clearing of landfill and debris addressed the core objectives of RMFA which is “to finance the maintenance of core roads network”.  In addition to that, the procurement procedures for acquiring the two contractors namely, M/s Northern Investment INC Ltd and M/s Marie Investment and General Merchandise who performed the work did not follow the procedures for emergency procurements as stipulated by the National Procurement Act.  On the other side, there were no M&E done on the projects to enable them being certified for payments. The audit team noted that there were no monitoring reports from either RMFA or City councils to justify the works that were done and whether the payments were actually the ones deserved.  This ultimately caused the payments to be done without Engineers’ reports, which is against the public procurement and financial regulations. The audit team noted further that there were no procurement proceedings of the same projects to show how the contractors were awarded the particular projects. The management responded to this observation giving reasons that there were a lot of flooding and failure to that section of the road because of this dumpsite. The response indicated that a joint assessment was done by SLRA Engineers and the Freetown City Council engineers who have the sole responsibility for clearing of this landfill and subsequently submitted a proposal with justification which was approved by executive management.  However, the auditors noted that this does not sufficiently justify the availability of proper guidelines for handling emergency maintenance projects. So it was recommended that RMFA should ensure that there is a proper guidance for responding to emergency maintenance projects which will help them to avoid any chances of carrying-out projects which are out of their mandates and those that may negatively affect its financial capacity to finance other road projects.

By Zainab Iyamide Joaque

Monday May 20, 2019.

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