Dear Mr. Editor,
I am writing in response to your June 7, 2017 story entitled - Ministry of Public Works, East International In Shady Deal?“”
I am not sure what motivated the story since it certainly was not the pursuit of truth. The sheer sloppiness and unprofessionalism here has become a burden.
About a year ago, a reporter from this very same newspaper interviewed Deputy Minister Giddings about this allegation that the Gbarma-Weasua project was awarded fraudulently to a Chinese company at the expense of a Liberian company.
That same reporter, Mai Azango and a colleague, Tete Jebro, went to the PPCC to follow up on the story.
After four hours with Dorbor Jallah, they left and didn’t print the story. Maybe it was an editorial decision. Maybe it was because it didn’t confirm a pre-conceived conclusion.
The same paper has returned to the story with no new evidence. It is not my place to teach you how to do your job. But when you fail to carry out the most basic practices of journalism, that sloppiness becomes a burden.
The Minister does not evaluate bids. No member of the Procurement Committee evaluates bids. When the Procurement Committee rules on a bids above the threshold, the PPCC still has to give its “no objection”.
In the two plus years I have been Minister not a single journalist has requested the “Bid Evaluation Report” of a bid process. You could have done that. About 8 months ago, two reporters from this same paper came to my office and I explained to them how the process works to no visible avail.
The projects you mentioned:
- The Rigid Pavement Pre-financing Contract (51km) was put out for bid three times and all three times there was not a single submission from a Liberian company. There were submissions from two Chinese companies, a Senegalese company, and a Lebanese-owned company. How is the Ministry supposed to award a contract to a Liberian company when there is no submission?
- The Rigid Pavement Pilot Project that includes Redemption Road, Smythe Road, and Thinker’s Village Road did include a Liberian bidder in the process. But the Liberian bid was $2 million below our Engineers’ Estimate. It was rejected on the basis that bids which exceed or fall below the Engineer’s Estimate by 30% or more are rejected outright.
- The Gbarma – Weasua project did not have a Liberian winner because of material omissions and inaccuracies in their bid documents. In fact, the PPCC received complaints about this project and conducted a full investigation before giving its “No Objection”
The Executive Director personally walked your reporter and her colleague through this about a year ago. You know this. Yet you allowed this story to be printed.
On two occasions, contractors who felt that contract award decisions were not fair to them challenged those decisions. The independent Complaints And Review Panel (CARP) at the PPCC upheld my decisions on both occasions.
It is a failure of editorial oversight. This is what happens when such oversight is either non-existent or inadequate and/or when a reporter reaches a conclusion and goes seeking evidence to back the conclusion instead of the other way round.
My commitment to supporting and advancing Liberian contractors participation is evident in the reforms and policies we have established at MPW under my leadership.
The Ministry of Commerce has ranked the Ministry of Public Works is the highest performer among government agencies dedicating a portion of its budget to Liberian businesses.
This was publicly announced at the last Cabinet retreat. It was I who made it a policy that all unpaved road contracts will only be open to Liberian companies.
It was I who insisted and achieved local participation (in the Consultancy) on projects financed by the African Development Bank (Fish Town to Karlokeh) and Arab Development lending agencies (Gbarnga to Salayea).
It was I who made it a policy that for projects US$500,000 and below, new Liberian companies with qualified staff should be allowed to bid even if they have no prior experience. It was under my leadership that Liberian contractors were invited to a workshop with the PPCC to train them on the bid submission process because they were committing too many errors in their submissions. No Minister has done more to ensure that Liberian contractors have work (even given the limited budget) than I have. Everything I say here is verifiable.
Fact. Yet, without evidence, you keep parroting this nonsense that I am awarding contracts to Chinese companies at the expense of Liberian companies. It is a disservice both to the profession and the people who read your paper.
I refused to grant an interview because I will not legitimize this sloppiness. I have neither the time nor the inclination to participate in this farce where you reach a conclusion and go fishing for evidence to back your conclusion.
That is not journalism. It is not honest. And it is not ethical. Any objective review of my leadership at the Ministry of Public Works will vindicate me.
William Gyude Moore, Minister of Public Works, RL