Amidst waves of Ebola fight across the country, there is a serious tussle among officials of Nimba County over the recent scrap bid that was awarded to the North Star Company.
According to Nimba Legislative Caucus’s Chairman, Senator Thomas Grupee, the recent scrap bid awarded to the North Star Company was done single handedly by Superintendent Fong Zuagele and his collaborators.
He accused the county leadership of awarding a scrap contract to North Star without informing them, stressing that they had earlier agreed to award the contract to Western Steel (a Ghanaian Firm) that earlier won the first bid and published in December last year.
Senator Grupee said if anything was wrong with the first bid and new bid was required, it would have been a concern for both local leadership and the caucus.
Instead, Senator Grupee said the superintendent and his lieutenants cancelled the first bid and put out a new bid without informing them.
The first bid was opened on 31st December 2013 and the result was announced in June 2014, but due to some wrangling among the officials, many believed there was a conflict of interest as some groups pushed for North Star while the other pushed for Western Steel.
When the bid result was announced, some concern scrap buyers association under the umbrella “Concern Scrap Buyers Association of Nimba” rejected the decision by the Nimba County Authority to award the scrap contract to the Ghanaian Scraping Firm, Western Steel, saying the bid over stayed and therefore it was no longer fair.
In a letter of complaint addressed to the Public Procurement and Concession Commission dated June 6, 2014 which the copy is with the Daily Observer, the Nimba Scrapers say their objection to the decision by the Nimba Administration to award the contract to Ghanaian Company was because the bidding process was not transparent.
In their letter which contained eight counts, they say the bid process was done under the influence/interference of the lawmakers.
“Long before the bid was announced, some of our lawmakers had visited Ghana upon the invitation of the Ghanaian Company and at the company expense,” they said in their letter.
In April this year, the head of the scrap buyers, Dennis Maneh raised concern explaining that the Public Procurement and Concession Commission/PPCC stipulated days for bidding is 60 and for the scraps, but bidding in Nimba County went beyond the time frame and that the county leadership releases the result immediately.
This controversial scrap bid led to the expulsion of Senator Prince Johnson from the Caucus after he accused his colleagues of receiving “Brown envelope” from the Ghanaian Firm to award them the contract.
The scrap issue has been in confusion since it was turned to Nimba by Arcelor Mittal over a year ago even before the coming of Fong Zuagele as Superintendent of Nimba.
Prior to the bidding process last year, several Nimba officials, including some members of caucus and Superintendent Christiana Dagadu, County Inspector Reginald Mehn secretly visited Ghana; something that brought feeling of unfairness among Nimbaians.
During their visit, it was announced by some lawmakers that Western Steel promised to build a mini steel plant in Nimba if they be awarded the bid so as to create jobs for the locals, but many scrapers believed that the quantity of scraps in Nimba was small for steel plant.
The scrutiny of the first bidding process that gave the contract to the Ghanaian Company was presided over by Nimba Assistant Superintendent for Development, Teeko Yorlay, but he continues to remain mute whenever he is contacted by media.
He justifies that he is not clothed with the authority to speak, claiming that he has already done his it left with Superintendent.
With this new tussle; Teeko Yorlay has been battling in defense of the so-called new bid, which is said to have been awarded to North Star.
He has been arguing that the contract was awarded to North Star, because they agreed to purchase a ton of scrap for US $ 78.00, give US$ 1.6 million and construct two schools worth over US$ 200, 000 while Western Steel bided to buy the scrap for US$ 77.00 a ton and build a mini plant.
He argued that the highest bid won the bid and therefore they decided to give the contract to North Star (a Liberian/Indian Firm) because what they offered was greater than Western steel.
Critics alleged Teeko Yorlay to have received a “Brown envelope” along with a Toyota Jeep from North Star so as to award them the contract, something yet to be verified.