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80 Consultancy Associations Out Of Action For Payment Delay

Published on: Tue, 2013-11-12 00:00

Aiming at pulling the society out of poverty, the country is striving to accelerate its socio-economic take off. Making the rural population beneficiaries of infrastructure facilities; thereby, creating transportation access, ensuring better market link and creating employment opportunities for rural youth are cardinal to government's efforts regarding Universal Rural Road Access Programme (URRAP), which is deemed to nexus all kebeles together. At times this move is seen suffering setbacks.
According to Ministry of Transport (MoT) evaluation,as compared to other states SNNP has shown low performance in the execution of URRAP.
Coupled with different rationales, the disagreement that broke out among the main actors of the project including, State Transport Bureau, contractors and consultants has adversely affected the pace and quality of project execution.
Pertaining to this issue, MoT had recently organized a field trip to assess the execution of tasks at the project sites. No sooner we set our feet on the project sites, almost all consultancy and contractors' associations started criticizing the transport bureau for failing to pay them operational payment for about one year and three months.
Association representatives told The Ethiopian Herald that meeting all the required qualifications which help them organize as consulting and engineering associations under Commercial Registration and Business Licencing Proclamation No.686/2002 EC, the associations and the bureau have made contractual agreements. The agreements give a mandate for the former to provide consultancy and supervision services to the URRAP project since 2004E.C.
URRAP is in swing, we, as associations, have been working properly on contractual basis since 2004E.C. However, due to the bureau's oddities,we remained unpaid despite the service we rendered”,said association representatives.
Kebede Dessalegn who is a member of Tagel Consulting and Engineering Association said that even if meeting the deadlines the consulting associations had managed to complete road design works of the last two years, the payment for the designing task is not made yet as the bureau sets new criterion for designing works.
The consulting associations have been operating in line with the contractual agreements, however, supervision payment is not made so far. This trend is compelling the consultants to withdraw from the projects.
Dampening the zeal of the associations and forcing consultants to abrogate their contracts the inconveniences are delaying the road construction work. Currently,all of the consulting associations have quit operations, added Kebede.
Christina Consulting and Engineering Association Manager Melat Amede on her part said, “ Denied timely supervision payment by the Bureau we are tied down by financial constraints. The commendation of our clients at Woreda level that we have done our task timely and efficiently notwithstanding, the Transport Bureau refuses to make operational payment claiming that consultants are remiss in the supervision of the construction process.
Delayed payment is incapacitating her association to fully carryout the supervision and designing works of the URRAP project. The associations are not paid for almost one year, added Melat.
Approached by this reporter with the complaints,Transport Bureau Head Tagesse Eromo responded that it is because of the consulting associations' failure to discharge duties in supervising and preparing road designs as per the contractual agreement that the payment is delayed.
So far, the bureau has revoked the licenses of four associations which proved lax in discharging set tasks efficiently. The major duty of the associations is to prepare road designs that fulfill the necessary criterion. However, most of the consulting associations have not come up with the required designs. Thus, the Bureau couldn't be expected to pay them under such circumstances.
According to the contract, the consulting associations should supervise and make sure the contractors are constructing the road as planned. However, negligent they seem engaged in doing their own business. Surprisingly, they don't show up at construction sites. Hence, there is no ground to make supervision payments.
“Members of the associations are busy in doing other businesses, they don't show up at the project site. This adversely impact the implementation of the project. Thus, the bureau could not irresponsibly make any payment under such circumstances. Of course,lack of budget sometimes lead to delay on payments to the associations. However, there is no any single association which is unpaid for its tangible services,”he added.
According to the Head, the consulting association has the responsibility to prepare road designs and supervise contractors whether they are undertaking the construction according to the design or not. The construction process determines the supervision payment. There would not be any delay of payment, if the consultant operate properly,stressed the head.
Tagesse noted that consultants are asking for payment without doing supervision in person at the constructions sites, they are rarely available on the project site.
Some contractors also indicated that the disagreement that occurred between the bureau and consultants has financially crippled the contractors since the payment is set and approved by the consultants. Such inconveniences will definitely impede the realization of the project expected to significantly improve the livelihood of the rural community. Hence, concerned bodies should give emphasis to alleviating the problem.
Source: The Ethiopian Herald

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