The Liberia-China United Investment Group, the company that is currently building the Gboveh Community College in Bong County said it has never given a bribe to anyone or group of people in exchange for favor to build the college.
In a statement issued in Monrovia during the weekend the company’s administration made up of Chinese Nationals said corruption is a capital crime in China, punishable by death, and the entity being a Chinese owned company will never and can never give bribe or kickback to any one or group of people in exchange for favor or contract.
The company was reacting to a story published in the ‘Microscope” Newspaper on May 13, 2013 under the caption: “Rep. Mulbah Swims In Gboveh College Money, Others Linked.”
In that publication, the paper insinuated that the community college could be not completed up till now because the contractor which is our company gave huge amount as kickback to some members of the Bong Legislative Caucus.
“Since we won the bid to build a community college in Gbarnga, there have been a lot of setbacks which, we, as a responsible company never wanted to disclose to the public except the Government of Liberia that gave us the contract through the local authorities. But, because our names have been linked to corruption, which could cost us our lives in china, we are constrained to provide the reasons for the interruption in the construction of the college and the complication that develops thereof, “ the company’s statement signed by its Chief Executive Officer Mr. Lian Zhi said
The company further narrated reasons why the Gboveh Community College has not been completed since the contract was signed on October 15, 2010.
The company’s statement said the main building, which can house about 500 students at a time, costs about US$4.3m according to the contractual agreement and this building should have been completed in 18 months upon commencement in 2010
According to the contractual agreement, the first payment of 50 percent which is US$ 2,150,000 should have been made immediately after the signing of the contract but this did not happen, the Liberia-China United Investment Group said.
The company explained that after four months Bong County made its first payment of Us$700,000 even though construction works was already taking place on a pre-financed basis. “The second payment of US$130,000 was made by Bong County after another month. It took another 3 months before the third payment of US$1,250,000 was made to our company, “ the statement said.
The statement noted that before the third payment of US$870,000 was made, the company had to take the government to court and the lawyer took a retainer fee of US$87,000 which is 10 percent of the amount paid. “It took more than one year six months before this amount was paid,” the company said.
Explaining further, the company said there have been intermittent delays by Bong County in making payment to the contractor which seriously caused financial nightmare for the company. “The delay constituted one year six months during the duration of the contract” the company pointed out.
“During this period of delay, our company acquired loans from two banks to continue working. Because Chinese engineers and Liberian workers could not be sitting down doing nothing as the company waited for payment while giving out about US$100,000 thousand dollars in salary in addition to US$21,000 in operational expenses,” the Liberia-China United Investment Group said.
The company said it ran into deficit and the loan interest rates continue to increase because the anticipated delay in payment went beyond bounds which caused the company to lost US$130,000 to the banks’ interest rate.
The contractors said to avoid acquiring more loans, management decided to reduce the number of Chine engineers and Liberian workers thus causing a serious delay in the implementation of the project; a delay that witnessed the increase in prices of construction materials, taking into consideration global inflation which has greatly affected the prices of goods locally and internationally.
The company said the cost of the building, which should have been completed in 18 months was US$ 4.3m at the time of signing but three years later, the cost of that building cannot remain the same something that is one of the complications hovering over the contract.
“However, we have imported all of the materials to have the first floor of the four-wing building completed before September based on a request from the school administration that they want to begin classes during that time,” the statement said.
“Our company is not at fault for the delays. We should blame the delay on the local government’s inability to pay us on time in keeping with the contractual agreement. In fact, it is our company that is at a lost,” the statement further said.
“We have overheard others talking about taking us to court to terminate the contract. Let this known that we ourselves are not afraid of litigation. We are even willing to go to court to claim our losses caused by the local government breach of contract as indicated by the intermittent delay in the payment of our money,” the company said.
Concluding the company said “ as a credible company operating under the laws of Liberia, we are still willing to work with the authorities and the people of Bong County to have Gboveh completed just as we did in the case of the Bassa Community College”