The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Ghana First Company Limited (GFCL), Mr. Frank Akuley has indicated that there have been some misinterpretations of contents of the Contract Agreement the company signed with contractors in the Clean Ghana Sanitation Project, hence the ongoing impasse.
Mr. Frank Akuley was responding to media publications from claims that the Company (Ghana First) has defrauded contractors since it failed to honour its part by paying them after completing the project.
Speaking to him in an interview, Mr. Akuley pointed out that it was clear from the ongoing brouhaha that the contractors do not understand that the project they were entering into is a Turn Key Project where they shall be paid only upon full completion and handing over of the entire project.
He averred that all the contractors were allowed and given ample time to study the Contract Agreement before they sign, and that any anomaly that might emerge as a result from their (contractors) inability to thoroughly consider and understand the Contract cannot be hold against the Company, Ghana First.
He quoted Clause 5 (iv) of the Contract Agreement which states that “That the Contractors agree that the Contract is a Turn Key Project and that the Contractor shall be paid only upon full completion and hand over of the entire project,” explaining that the Agreement also states on page 17 Clause 39(1) that, “Without prejudice to Clause 5 of the Contract Agreement, the employer reserves the right to pay part of the total sum amounting to 60 per cent of the Quantum Sum after collaborative site visit and inspection is done by the employer, bankers and the contractors.”
According to Mr. Frank Akuley, although there are some problems regarding acquisition of funding for the project, none of the contractors have finished the project and hand over before making claims for payment.
He explained also that, his office has not receive any letter from any of the contractors indicating they have completed the project for which they must be paid.
Mr. Akuley believed that the 60 percent of the Quantum Sum stated in the Agreement was a problem to most of the contractors who thought that the Company is obligated to pay them 60 percent of the contract sum even if they haven’t finished working on the project.
“Look the Agreement talks about Quantum Sum and this Quantum Sum is different from the Contract Sum. The Quantum Sum includes all other expenses each contractor made on the project from start to finish, and this will be determined after completion of the project,” he explained.
He said the Agreement also indicated succinctly that, “The employer therefore without any doubt reserves the right to uphold this said payment when defects are detected after the collaborative site visit and inspection. Payment will therefore be done after these defects are remedied by the Contractor.” the agreement stated.
Also, he mentioned that some contractors were out of site over a year in strict violation of the Agreement Clause 5 (xi) “That in the event of the contractors abandoning the project for any period of 28 continuous days without prior notice to the employer, the contract shall stand abrogated and the cost of the abandonment including any delay occasioned to the project thereby shall be Surcharged the contractors.”
On claims that the company also took 2% of the Contract Sum as Commission from the contractors before they go to site, Mr. Akuley explained that at the beginning of the project, contractors were given the contracts for free until June 1, 2018 when there is the need to raise some amount of money to support some contractors who were unable to get funding to continue their project.
He noted that the Company decided to take the 2% Commission which was used to assist most of the contractors.
Call To MMDAs
Mr. Frank Akuley however stressed that the failure on the part of Metropolitan and Municipal Districts Assemblies (MMDAs) thus the Project Partners to submit their land titles to enable them get funding from the bank for the project has been a major issue.
According to him, that has been a major challenge which has caused the company’s inability to secure funding for contractors.
He said some contractors have died, others got sick and some have been rendered jobless whiles the project itself suffered setback due to that.
Mr. Akuley explained that the Company had also entered into an agreement with the MMDAs as project partners who holds ten (10) percent equity in the project to make lands available for the project.
He said that decision was backed by an undertaking which states that “…that the project partner hereby covenants that the land it shall provide shall be itself acquired land with tiles, right and interest in the said land having vested in the Project Partner. Therefore the land so provided shall be vested to the project owner who is authorized to use the respective land for the Purpose of securing funding only for the this project.”
He said the MMDAs seem to have relax with these arrangement and urged the MMDAs to do what is right.
He however expressed worry at the ongoing media war against the company.
Mr. Akuley said the project is a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Project and a laudable project which would help curb open defecation hence government must intervene so as to enable the company secure funding for the contractors to be able to complete the project.
Meanwhile, at a recently held meeting with some of the contractors, the contractors came to the realization the disagreements were borne out of their misunderstandings of the Contract Clauses.
The Chairman for New World Contractors Association of Ghana, Mr. Emmanuel Dapaah confessed that activities of Ghana first Company Limited (GFCL) is not fraudulent.
According to him, “after the Chief Executive Officer explained further the Agreement and other related documents we have realized that the company is not scam,” adding that initially, they didn’t understand some terminologies in the Contract hence, the agitations.
“We are suffering, some have been rendered jobless, sick, some have died and others are losing their collateral they used in securing Loans to commence the project,” he said and also called on government to intervene.