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IAA Report Entangles Representatives In Bong College Probe
By Philip T. Singbah, Bong County Correspondent
GBARNGA, January 28 (LINA) – An Internal Audit Agency (IAA) report on the Bong County Technical College (BCTC) has shown how some members of the House of Representatives established a company dubbed ‘Liberia-China Investment’ to win the contract to build the college.
According to the audit report, former House Speaker Alex Tyler, Representative Bhofal Chambers and former lawmaker Ketehkumhn Murray owned sizable shares in the company.
The report states that Tyler owns 7.5% shares, Maryland County lawmaker Chambers has 7.5% shares, and former Representative Murray has 15% shares, while a Chinese National, Lian Zhi, owns 70 percent shares.
Among other things, the audit found that on October 21, 2010, a contract worth US$4,394,776.97 was entered into between the Project Management Committee (PMC) of Bong County as the ‘owner’ and the Liberia-China United Investment Group as the contractor to construct a twin-wing two-story building located in Gbarnga City, to be used for academic and administrative purposes by the college.
The audit report revealed that the contract was due to start on November 1, 2010 and end on October 31 2011.
Over time and due to issues not clearly articulated by the parties, several addenda were made to the contract, the last of which was signed in 2015, increasing the construction cost to US$7,604,926.97 and changing the completion date to May 2017.
At a press conference held in Monrovia rrcently, Tyler and Chambers admitted to having shares in the company, something which is considered a violation of Article 90 B of the Liberian Constitution which stresses conflict of interest, the report said.
Chambers admitted that he has held the shares in the company since 2010 and has requested his share after he realized that the company was not giving him anything in return.
He, however, failed to state the exact amount he invested in the company.
The Maryland County lawmaker, who has a record of accusing President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of aiding corruption and running a corrupt empire, said: “Paul
Collins who is the head of the Internal Audit Agency (IAA) did not call me and to see my name in this publication I see it to be unfortunate. I haven’t received a cent from the company and if it is proven let me not only resign but be executed.”
Chambers added: “If anyone can link me to having discussions of any kind, discussing money directly or indirectly on the Bong Community College let them show it .The only thing I know about this company is that it was a kind of building material store. There is nothing about having direct or indirect link with conflict of interest.”
The company was incorporated in February 2009, just 20 months to being awarded a US$4.3 million construction contract without evidence of prior experience, the audit emphasized.
According to the report, the construction company was formed in
anticipation of being awarded the construction contract.
Representative Chambers also challenged officials of government, including the Bong County Caucus, to show any proof of his involvement in the Bong Community College.
“Basically I have lost everything in this company in which I invested a couple of thousand dollars; for me it doesn’t matter,” Chamber said.
The Bong County Technical College (BCTC) is an offshoot of the erstwhile Doloken Gboveh Community College, which was established in 2010.
The college assumed the name BCTC in 2013, and in 2015, an Act was passed to make the college a legal corporate entity.
BCTC’s goal is to create access to training in technical skills and undergraduate degree programs for inhabitants of Bong County.
The College, however, lacks the structure to adequately house its students and therefore, in 2010 it was decided that a two-story, two-winged building be erected for both administrative and academic purposes.