A study by the Federal Ethics & Anti-Corruption Commission (FEACC), points fingers at the Ethiopian Roads Authority’s (ERA) contract awarding practices, for being vulnerable to corruption and cost and time overruns

The Commission, which presented its research findings at a meeting called on June 10, 2015 at Ghion Hotel, came to this conclusion after finding gaps in 20 ERA projects it assessed.

 

Among these were tendering procedures, particularly the way road projects are awarded to companies without considering their track record, causing time and cost overruns and also compromising the quality of each road constructed by a single contractor.

The study listed 12 road projects, including Adura-Akobo, Adura-Burabi, Salwa-Maji and Salwa-Maji-Laska, constructed by a single contractor, as an example of this practice.

From a legal standpoint, it is not at all a crime to have two companies: contractor and consultant on several projects, but their past performance must be considered, said Aklilu Mulugeta, corruption prevention director at FEACC.

Moreover, the study also indicated that ERA has weaknesses in its supervision of each and every project and in the monitoring of their progress.

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It also stressed the fact that there are few bidders competing to undertake road projects, owing to the complexity of competitive bidding procedures, and the failure of the Authority to widen alternatives for increasing the number of bidders. That problem contributed to the exaggerated cost of road projects.

Another point that was given due consideration in the study was costly road design problems.

Specifically, the case of the Adiremet-Dejena-Dansha road project illustrated this. According to a recent study done by the Construction Sector Transparency Initiative’s (COST) Ethiopia office, the project, a 97Km road construction in north-western regions of Tigray, was scheduled to be completed in February 2012. However, only three quarters of it was completed as of October 2014. The hold-up in schedule cost the Authority an additional 274 million Br from the originally projected cost of 980.7 million Br.

According to the report by COST, lack of transparency, prolonged procurement, design modification and limited capacity of the contractor, were attributed as major problems.

A third report done by the research directorate of ERA under the title, Causes of Time and Cost Overrun on ERA Road Construction Projects, based on 56 road projects constructed and completed between 2006 and 2015, found out that eight had faced cost overruns, eleven, time overruns, while 37 faced both.

The Commission finally recommended that the Authority award projects to companies in the construction sector, based on their former results. It also recommended that ERA implement a design auditing system in order to make companies and individuals accountable for their actions, such as poor designs.

It was also recommended by the Commission that ERA filter projects that have gaps in terms of resource wastage, and take administrative and legal action.

“We accept all the recommendations and we have been working on it for the past four years, designing 16 projects in order to basically deal with increasing the number of consultants and contractors, capacity building in design works and right of way issues,” said Samson Wondimu.

PUBLISHED ON JUN 15,2015 [ VOL 16 ,NO 789]