Major concerns with govt building projects report finds

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(Photo: Anteneh Aklilu)

CoST Ethiopia, a firm looking into transparency in Ethiopia’s construction industry reports many problems that have wasted taxpayer’s money
The report covered the Addis Ababa National Stadium, a conference hall and support facilities for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Jinka and Hawassa airports, The Ethiopian Civil Service office, an apartment complex for federal Supreme Court Judges, and the Urban Integrated Land Management Building project; during a day-long session on Thursday with Members of Parliament and other stakeholders at the Intercontinental Addis Hotel.
Yaregal Ali, CoST Assurance Professional said the went through the entire process of construction; from feasibility studies, bidding processes, recruiting consultancy services and overall project performance.
“The country is investing a lot of money in construction: from the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam to houses, roads and government offices,” said Wedo Ato Deputy Commissioner of the Anti-corruption Commission.
CoST was Established 10 years ago with the support of the World Bank Group and DFID. Also in 2009 there was a proclamation under the Procurement and Property Administration, requiring public disclosure of construction costs for government projects.

Wedo Ato

The report cited several major problems. Some projects had no completion date.
The Federal Sport Commission which involved in the Addis Ababa National Stadium was unable to produce a tender document, or explain their criteria for selecting consultants. This makes it difficult evaluate the over two billion birr project.
The Jinka and Hawassa Air fields had better ratings as the Ethiopian Airline Group has a dedicated department strictly supervising the projects. However, it was not finished on time because of additional work. Their disclosure rate was 78,9 percent which is better than other clients.
Still there was questionable activity.
“The strong and dedicated infrastructure team at the Ethiopian Airline group that had supervised both consultants and contractors, made an usual price deduction in the cost,” Yargal pointed out.
Government handling of construction projects in Ethiopia has been criticized for corruption.
Absence of documentation and records showing the sequential process of construction proceedings failed to be completed and many projects cost more than budgeted and took longer than expected.
“They don’t have recorded files that could explain why they failed to carry out the projects on time or within the allocated budget. No government institution manages to provide completed information about the tender process, contractual agreements, the procurement process and service contact fee setups,” Yaregal said.
The construction project for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Conference Room and facilities, for instance, cost 57 million birr more than expected when it was completed – increasing the cost from 147.8million birr to 205 million birr as the project had problems in design review, contract administration, and contract supervision, the study reported.
“A document or information about government projects should be recorded and kept for at least ten years, but what we have encountered is the opposite,” The Board Chair said.
“Ethiopia is billions in debt; we should not tolerate these types of problems and the government should commit to tackling transparency in public infrastructure projects from conception through implementation,” Eyasu stressed.

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