By MALUM NALU
Former Lae MP and senior statesman Bart Philemon has described the K140 million for just 20km of Lae roads from 2008-2012 as the “biggest corruption” case in Papua New Guinea for which a lot of prominent figures in both politics and business should hang their heads in shame.
Speaking in Lae and later showing some of the shoddy road works, Philemon described the Lae roads as “the biggest scam, an open scam”.
|The road leading from the old airport to town is blocked off on Sunday, Nov 17.|
|Butibam Road along Voco Point remains to be completed.|
Signboard for a new road contract but no explanation for previous contracts.
|The shoddy dustbowl at China Town.|
Meanwhile, K100 million was allocated in the 2013 budget for Lae roads, but has not been spent to date apart from K12 million already paid out to some “contractors”, and yet another K100 million has been budgeted for 2014.
“Talking about corruption, Lae roads is the biggest corruption,” he said.
“They dismantled the proper tendering process and they involved this certificate of inexpediency, so they could pick and choose which contractors.
“This was before the 2012 elections.
“The first contract was awarded in 2008 after the 2007 elections.
“(Former Prime Minister Sir Michael) Somare promised down at the stadium, during his campaign, after Somare and I fell out, that he would get rid of me in Lae.
“He promised K50 million for Lae roads.
“After the 2007 elections, they dismantled the normal tendering process and involved certificates of inexpediency, so they could handpick whoever they wanted.”
“They picked six contractors, Papua New Guineans contractors.
“Something happened and after 12 months they took that contract away.”
Philemon said the Finance Department administered funds for the Lae roads after that, dishing out contracts to a motley crew of contractors, some of whom never had a clue about road construction.
“After a couple of years, they got NME to be engineering supervisor, but every contractor’s original tender price exceeded by more than 20% to 60%, 100%,” he said.
“From what I understand, any government contract that varies in price more than 20%, a new contract has to be awarded.
“By 2011, they built less than 15km of road for K130 million.
“We managed to get an investigation team established.
“Sir Manasupe Zurenuoc was chairman of that.
“The investigation report was done, there were a lot of questions raised, very serious questions of governance issues.
“Cabinet looked at the submission and deferred to Operation Task Force Sweep, and we haven’t heard anything since then.
“During last elections, a lot of that money went back to the leading political parties for campaign.
“I don’t know who’s in charge, of the roads, it’s causing great inconvenience to people of Lae, and some of the roads have been closed for a long period of time.
“It’s hard to describe.
“Up to now they’ve spent K130-K140 million but you don’t see a reflection of the money there.
“When I left at the end of 2012, there was 20km of road built for about K130 million.
“This was the first stage.
“There were six contractors, there was no engineering design for the road, there was no bill of quantity, and there was no engineering supervisor.”