GBARNGA, Bong – Authorities in Bong have put an immediate halt to the pavement of two streets in Gbarnga, the Madam Suakoko Street and Gbarnga Broad Street. The project was being constructed by Sidani Group Holding.
Bong’s assistant superintendent for development, Anthony Sheriff, said Sidani had reduced the size of the road that runs from the Phebe Parking to the Star Gas Station. That act prompted the county to halt the project until the company reverts to the original plan.
“The road’s supposed to be 9.4 meters wide, but when they got at Phebe Parking, they reduced the size of the road to 7 meters wide,” Sheriff told The Bush Chicken in an interview.
The Sidani Holding Group was reportedly hired by the Ministry of Public Works to complete the 2.4 km pavement of streets in Gbarnga, a project that was previously being undertaken by East International Group Incorporated.
In January 2016, the project started as a county and social development fund project for Bong at the cost of US$1.35 million.
A turnover note that former superintendent Selena Polson Mappy presented to the current superintendent, Esther Walker, said the county had paid US$676,875 – half of the total amount – to East International, even though the company had not done 50 percent of the work.
In March 2017, the project became stalled for the second time, with county officials citing a “lack of funds” to pay the contractor as a factor for the delay.
The project did not recommence until President George Weah recently announced that the government would complete the pavement, along with the Bong County Technical College, another controversial project in the county.
Before deciding to halt the project, Sheriff said the county communicated the matter with the Ministry of Public Works and the ministry had mandated Sidani to develop a plan in line with the previous plan which East International had followed when it started building the road.
“The Ministry of Public Works supports our decision. In fact, the ministry has asked the company to do a blueprint of the road and share with us before they resume the road in a week,” Sheriff said.
When contacted about the decision of the county, the operations director of the company, Hassan Sidani, said the project was ongoing and that his company is unaware of the county’s decision to halt the project.
Sidani said he would do an investigation into the reasons for the halt.
Sidani said he was out of the country but maintained that “Gbarnga road will be done the best way and the way how the people want it. We are here to deliver the best and quality roads.”
Sidani said he expects that “work should start next week.”
Citizens had earlier accused the company of using substandard materials to do the road, an accusation that was acknowledged and accepted by Sidani. He said the company later considered the concerns of the citizens and changed the materials to ensure that the road is done with quality materials.
Featured photo by Moses Bailey