The Minister of Education, Dr. Matthew Opoku Prempeh, has directed the National Council of Tertiary Education (NCTE) to investigate an alleged illegal termination of contracts awarded to TACOA Construction Limited and Barony Company Limited by the University of Cape Coast (UCC).
A letter signed by Ms. Wilhelmina Asamoah, Director of General Administration to the NCTE, following a petition to the Education Minister of the alleged illegal termination of the contracts awarded to the construction firms, said such serious allegations should be immediately investigated.
According to the letter, the ministry indicated that the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cape Coast, Professor Joseph Ghartey Ampiah, had issued a note to TACOA Construction Limited to terminate all projects allegedly on the basis of submission of fake contract for signature.
“We are, therefore, requested to set up a panel and report on the petition within one month,” the directive indicated.
DAILY GUIDE learnt that between 2014 and 2015, UCC awarded four contracts to TACOA Construction Ltd and Barony Company Ltd which included the construction of a three-storey multi-purpose building for the College of Distance Education (CODE), University of Cape Coast; Construction of Regional Study Centre for the College of Continuing Education at Zuarungu in the Upper East; Construction of Office Block for School of Business of the University at Cape Coast and construction of three-storey Regional Study Centre at Jumapo in the Eastern Region, but the new Vice-Chancellor terminated all when he took office in 2016. Some of the buildings had been completed and already put to use.
In the petition to the Minister of Education, the construction firms stated that “we commenced work and progressed in earnest on all the contracts which were awarded at different times. As usual of construction contracts, we encountered challenges and difficulties with the project supervisors some of which were stalemates.”
The petition disclosed that variations, additions, and alterations made to the projects by the project supervisors changed completely the initial scope of works.
These, the contractors said, included change of timber trusses to metal, porcelain tile floor finish to terrazzo finish, replacement of central air conditioner to individual window split units, replacement of aluminum glazed windows and doors finishes to louvres and flush doors, as well as changes in the design of some structural members of the building.
The petition noted that “the instructions and variation orders issued for these changes were made after a considerable project period had been expended; this significantly affected the scheduled completion, cost and cash flow to the project. More grievously when import order had been made for some offshore materials for the project.”
It further indicated that the construction firms seeking a peaceful resolution of the numerous issues confronting the projects petitioned the President of the Ghana Institution of Surveyors who is the agreed arbiter for the amicable resolution of these numerous challenges; however, the university brazenly ignored the arbitration process.
It added that “while all efforts had been made by us to stay at the site and complete these projects, the Vice-Chancellor wrote to us terminating all these projects purportedly on the basis that securities submitted for the signing of the contract were all fake.”
It further noted that though the said securities were obtained from a third party, the police had investigated the expired security and obtained a warrant for the arrest of the agent involved.
The petitioners disclosed that “therefore, it is mischievous, malicious and unwarranted for the university to invoke any termination of projects that had been completed or progressing at the agreed scheduled for completion and institutes an action at the law court for submission of fake securities which never constitutes the basis for the award of the contract, but for its execution.”
The contractors point accusing fingers at some officials of the university saying that they are incompetent.
The Group Managing Director, Henry Tackie, the Contractor of TACOA Construction Limited, explained to DAILY GUIDE that since the new Vice-Chancellor took office, they have sidelined local contractors and now awarding contracts to only foreign contractors.