The ECOWAS National Unit on Sunday took a conducted tour of the construction site of the first phase of ECOWAS Logistics Depot at the Lungi International Airport.
The Desk Officer at the ECOWAS National Unit, Yousef Freeman Benga- Samah said after the conducted tour that his visit was a routine check by the National Unit aim at monitoring progress at the construction site of the ECOWAS Logistics Depot.
He recalled that nine years ago in Accra, the Heads of States of ECOWAS approved of the construction of a Coastal Depot in Freetown as part of ECOWAS preparedness in handling sub regional crisis. Benga-Samah told the media that the first phase of the project which entails the construction of an administrative building, a power house and a security post was awarded to Havage Engineering Services Ltd, a Nigerian firm after an open international bidding.
He said although personally he was impressed with the work done so far, his superiors were in better position to certify it. The ECOWAS Desk Officer thanked the Project Manager, Michael Oyelole for his professional handling of some unfortunate situation so far and promised to raise the company’s concern with the authorities with the view to finding a solution.
On his part, Michael Oyelole expressed his sincere thanks and appreciation to the ECOWAS National Unit for the visit which he said came at a time when the company was going through some challenges. He said although his company had presented Certificate of Valuation to ECOWAS since August, not a single cent has being paid to them, a development which he noted has badly affected their operations.
He lamented that a nine month project which could have ended December 2013 was delayed due to administrative bottle necks. He furthered that through no fault of their’s, the completion date for the project has lapsed for over ten months. The Project Manager said due to the delay, interest rate on the bank loan they took to undertake the project has soared as the cost of materials keep sky rocketing. “ we will now have to look for money somewhere to take care of our financial obligations including payment of salaries for security, lighting among others”, he said.
Micheal pointed out that the increase in cost of materials also badly affected their operations considering the extra amount they had to mobilize to meet the demand of the contract.
He said contractually, the company has finished it work, but said some additional work which were agreed upon by both sides were now being taken care of.
The Project Manager mentioned the Ebola outbreak as one of the biggest challenges they are facing as contractor “it is more difficult and expensive to get materials from other countries to here”
The ECOWAS Conflict resolution Mechanism Decision A/Dec/17/10/05 of the Authority of Heads of State and Government convened in Accra, Ghana on January 2005 provided for the establishment of two logistics bases in the ECOWAS sub-region; namely a humanitarian depot in Mali and a logistics support facility in Sierra Leone for Peace Support Operations. After series of technical investigations for a suitable land to locate the logistics support facility in Sierra Leone, seventeen acres of landed property was demarcated in Lungi for the construction of the logistics depot and residential quarters.
Government’s commitment to the project was reinforced during the 37th Summit of the Authority of Heads of State and Government convened in Abuja, Nigeria in February 2010, where His Excellency the President of the Republic of Sierra Leone, Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma, formally signed a memorandum of understanding with the President of the ECOWAS Commission for the establishment of logistics facility for Peace Support Operations in Sierra Leone.
The establishment of a logistics support facility in Sierra Leone in a laudable venture both for the country and the ECOWAS sub-region. To the ECOWAS sub-region, the facility will serve as reservoir in the furtherance of Peace Support Operations. To the Lungi community, it will create job opportunities and stimulate economic activities.
It is against this background that such a sensitization seminar is organized to inform and educate the respective stakeholders in the need for the depot, its relevance to the ECOWAS sub-region, and the role expected of the host community to ensure that the depot functions satisfactorily to meet its desired objectives.