Sunday, March 3, 2013

■ LIBERIA: Government clarifies awarding of contract for new $11mln hotel at Roberts International Airport.

LiberiaThe Liberian Government says it has indeed awarded an USD11million contract for the construction of a 5-star hotel at Monrovia's Roberts International Airport to local tycoon, Mr. George Abi-Jaoudi, a Lebanese businessman. Liberian Minister of Transport,  Eugene Lenn Nagbe, made the statement following much speculation in the Liberian press over the nature of the award given Mr Abi-Jaoudi's relationship to the Liberian First Family.

Mr Nagbe made the disclosure following a report in Monrovian paper, The Heritage, last week alleging that some “Big Names” with close ties to the presidency (of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf)  had “vested interests” in  the contentious Roberts International Airport(RIA) hotel contract.
The RIA Hotel Contract was secretly signed by the Government of Liberia and awarded to Mr. George Abi-Jaoudi, a top Lebanese businessman by non-attendance. The Abi-Jaoudis have strong relationships with the first family,” our sources also revealed. Divulged our sources: “The first bid was won by a top Liberian businessman. But it was annulled simply because the vested interest the big names have in the deal. When the second bid was put out, the Liberian businessman did not participate as he had already discovered that the entire  bidding process was a complete charade.”   
Source [The Heritage]

Overview of RIA, Monrovia
Overview of RIA, Monrovia (DoD)
The paper further alleged that two governmental agencies, the Public Procurement Concession Commission (PPCC) and the National Investment Commission (NIC), both of which are responsible for the scrutinization of government contracts in a bid to minimize the possibility of corruption, were circumvented.

However, in his response, Mr Nagbe outlined the series of events that resulted in Mr Abi-Jaoudi being awarded the contract. He disclosed that five bidders, including Abi Jaoudi, Ola Kleen, Bashir Brothers, La Cour and Krystal Oceanview Hotel submitted their Expression of Interests for the contract and were shortlisted before being requested by the Management of the RIA to submit detailed plans in April 2012.

He stated that Lockheed Martin, the company contracted to run Roberts International Airport, and the airport's management team requested the bidders to submit a business plan, including a forecast, construction costs of which only two companies responded.
Minister Nagbe  said  the documents of the two bidders (Abi Jaoudi and La Cour) were reviewed and evaluated by the Procurement Committee of the RIA at which time Abi Jaoudi “was selected” for the contract. Said the Transport Minister: “My predecessor, the then Minister of Transport Honorable Willard Russell, the Minister of Justice and the then acting Minister of Finance signed the lease agreement on behalf of  the Government of Liberia with Abi Jaoudi Corporation following this extensive, comprehensive process in May, 2011.
Source [The Heritage]

Work has begun following the approval of a plan for the five-star hotel which will form part of the USD163million renovation plan for Roberts International Airport.

A partnership between Royal Haskoning DHV in South Africa (formerly SSI Engineers & Environmental Consultants) and NACO (Netherlands Airport Consultants) also a Royal Haskoning DHV Group subsidiary, secured the contract for major upgrading work and the long term master planning for Roberts International (RIA) in 2012.