Lawrence Williams: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 26 December 2020:
It is appalling as it is alarming to note that the National Corona Virus Emergency Response Centre (NaCOVERC) could hire a construction company to provide catering services for quarantined homes when there are catering services providers across Sierra Leone.
The 2019 Auditor General Report found that contracts for the provision of catering services valued at Le2.3 billion was awarded to a construction company named Swendeh Construction and General Services Company Limited.
The auditors say the Ministry of Health and Sanitation used the sole sourcing method to award six contracts totalling Le2.3 billion to Swendeh Construction Company.
What is even more baffling is that the Ministry of Health and Sanitation went ahead and chose this construction company to provide catering services, with the full knowledge that the company had no track record or experience in catering or supplying cooked food.
The auditors probe revealed that Swendeh Construction had no previous catering experience as a construction company, and furthermore lacked the financial capacity to execute the contracts because their tax liability for both 2019 and 2020 was a paltry Le9 million.
The report says the sole sourcing selection process for the six contracts was not transparent, and the contract failed to outline the specification of food items to be delivered to persons held in quarantine, so Swendeh Ltd. could have delivered anything.
The auditors observed severe internal control weaknesses in quarantine management. This ranged from the lack of transparency in procurement processes, poor contract details, lack of due diligence in the processing of payments to contractors and suppliers to poor coordination between various stakeholders.
The auditors say it is possible that all the goods and services paid for by NaCOVERC and the Ministry of Health were not completely delivered to the intended beneficiaries.