$121,000 contract should’ve been tendered, Minister says

A consultant contract directly awarded to former Chief Executive Officer of the Land, Transport Authority (L.T.A.), Leasi Vainalepa Galuvao, will still be honoured despite the contract not going through the proper procurement process. 

This is according to the Minister of Works, Transport and Infrastructure, Papali’i Niko Lee Hang, who is also the responsible Minister for L.T.A. 

During an interview with the Samoa Observer yesterday, Papali’i said while the procurement process was bypassed, it is difficult to cancel the contract since it has already been signed.

The Minister said he was not aware of the decision which had only been brought to his attention after it was signed. 

“The Prime Minister questioned me about it and I had to explain to Cabinet that I was not aware of it – it was a decision made by the current C.E.O,” said Papali’i. 

“So the Prime Minister wanted me to ask the Attorney General of a way to have it cancelled but to me it is already signed and both parties have agreed. It would be another civil case at Court for us.”

The six months contract in question is worth $121,000 for road works and major projects such as the reconstruction of the Vaisigano Bridge and upgrading of the west coast road.  

According to the Minister, the decision made by L.T.A. C.E.O. Galumalemana Taatialeoitiiti Tutuvanu-Schwalger and Board Chairperson to award Leasi the contract was on grounds that the procurement of such personnel was within their jurisdiction. 

“The Board has the discretion to hire people in their authority with that (procurement) amount of less than $200,000,” he said. 

“Any amount above whether its procurement or equipment it has to come through Tenders Board. 

“But the problem was they made a direct appointment of Leasi first of all without my knowledge and should have discussed with me the need of this consultant.

“Because if she (C.E.O) discussed this with me, I would have told them to tender it and go through the procurement process even if its under their jurisdiction to hire a person but the government process should be followed. 

“There are a lot of other civil engineers that wished to apply and we can evaluate from the tender who is cheaper and go from there.”

Papali’i pointed out there are a lot of civil engineers in Samoa that run private businesses and they are all eligible yet the appointment was made directly. 

While the Minister said he does not have any grudges against Leasi, to be fair on other engineers, the contract should have been tendered.  

The Minister does not accept claims from C.E.O. Galumalemana that the awarding of the contract was because of the urgency of works.

“Yes we need civil engineers (for work) but we also cannot bypass the procurement process and no Ministry or government agency is exempt from this,” he said. 

“It doesn’t mean we don’t have engineers and we cannot do any work. L.T.A have their own engineers. They blamed the works for Pacific Games and other road works and saw the need to make the urgent decision to appoint Leasi but that is the problem it did not follow procurement and that is an oversight by the C.E.O. and Chairperson.” 

When L.T.A. C.E.O, was contacted for a comment last week she said the decision to award Leasi the contract was due to a significant number of urgent road works that the Authority is implementing. 

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