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By Ibrahim Alusine Kamara (Kamalo)

Contrary to a statement of the 2022 Annual Audit Report that Gento Group of Companies was double-paid for the Waterloo road network, the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has now cleared the company of any wrongdoing.

This came during the hearing of the 2022 Audit Report in Parliament on Tuesday, June 11, 2024.

The contract between the company and the Sierra Leone Roads Authority (SLRA) under review is said to be estimated at a value of forty-two million seven hundred eighty-two thousand seven hundred twenty-seven United States dollars (USD42,782,727), out of which an amount totaling thirty-nine million six hundred seventy-six thousand three hundred and fifteen United States dollars (USD39,676,315) was paid to the contractor with an amount of three million one hundred and six thousand four hundred and thirteen United States dollars (USD3,106,413) remaining.

But the auditors observed certain discrepancies in the payment process in that based on pieces of communication the company and RMFA an Interim Payment Certificate (IPC) valued at USD5,459,499.26 equivalent to Le71,281,565 was issued in 2018 due to delayed payment of IPC 1 as prescribed in Clause 60.10 of the contract agreement.

The controversy is, therefore, an observation by the auditors that RMFA had already made payment for IPC 1 in 2016.

During the 2022 Annual Audit Report Hearing, however, members of the Public Accounts Committee in Parliament after carefully but thoroughly screening one Kemokai Fatorma, who represented the institutions concerned, it was eventually established that Gento Group of Companies is not complicit.

The company started the said Waterloo road works in 2015-2016 when the Road Maintainance Fund Administration (RMFA) paid part of the money according to the contract agreement. This was marked Payment Certificate 1.

Findings reveal that from 2016 to 2018, Gento Group of Companies was actively engaged in the road works but it came to a halt when the government changed. Upon the resumption of work later, the company applied for Certificate 1A for the work done from 2016 to 2018, but unfortunately, the Director of Debts at the Finance Ministry mistakingly issued a document marked Payment Certificate 1 instead of 1A which the auditors picked up and reported in the 2022 Audit Report, especially as Mr. Fatorma failed to provide the necessary documents to the auditors for which he stands fined the sum of NLe5,000.

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