Retraction & Apology: Funds for construction of toilet facilities used to purchase posh vehicles, sponsor cronies abroad

We wish to retract and apologise for the publication with the headline: ‘’FUNDS FOR CONSTRUCTION OF TOILET FACILITIES USED TO PURCHASE POSH VEHICLES, SPONSOR CRONIES ABROAD’’.

We regret the publication and error and apologise to the First Ghana Contractors Association.

Shortly following publication, it was brought to the attention of the editors that the contents of the story did not represent the truth, a situation we have regretted.

The authors acknowledged that there was some unattributed copying from 3News.

The editors of hereby apologise to First Ghana Contractors Association for the damage caused to their reputation, integrity and long-standing trust by their suppliers, stakeholders and the general public.

Our attention was also drawn to the fact that the contents were inaccurate and only meant to tarnish the image of the association.

We deeply apologize once again for the harm caused your association and retract the story and the contents therein.

We also apologise to all the companies that had their names in the inaccurate story.

The companies are as follows:

Adyhos Company Limited, Alo Ebia Company Limited, Aniya Enterprise, Baf Survey and Constriction Limited, Big YBN Company and Boatdame Construction and Supplies Limited.

The rest were Cast Out Fear Company Limited, Charles K. Ankoma Ventures, Clendy Real Estate Limited, Dadyco Limited, Deecal Company Limited, Edemetha Enterprise-Edem Letsa, EMB Ventures Limited, Equity Lynx Company Limited, and Erham Construction Limited.
Farsight Ventures Limited, Fredmay Company Limited, Free Fall Construction Limited, Fresh M Construction & Pavement Blokc-Abraham Yeboah, Galtons Company Limited, Goldline Construction Limited, Hanimart Limited, I. K. Mphammed Company Limited, Illias Ghana Limited, Johbeco Company Limited, Jonaco Enterprise, Joyflux, Juliana Akowuah-W&G Chairman, also added to the list.

Julibork Construction Limited, Kem Millennium Ventures, KGE Company Limited, Kwasi Gyan Limited, Lemipa International Company, Mashiko Enterprise, Mat Benetty Enterprise, NS & P Ghana Limited, Nhyira Building & Construction Works, Noble Green Africa Construction Limited, Nyarko & Co. Construction Limited, Framan Trading and Construction Works, Quality Systems, Ridge Stewardship Construction Limited, S. K. Amyaks Company Limited, Samgit Company Limyed, Samuel Koranteng Ventures, Satmosa Enterprise Starco Ventures, Steve Asiedu Company Limited, Strong Moraf Construction Limited Theo Thom Construction Limited, Vonnyborg Company Limited.

Ghana first company limited (GhFCL) situated at Adjriganor, East Legon – Accra, expressed concerned about open defecation in the country. GhFCL being a waste management company that seeks to provide solutions to open defecation in the country. The company therefore called for contractors to bid for various Lots of toilet facilities comprising of 14; 16; 20 Type A and 20 Type B seater toilets across the country.
On the 7th May, 2018, Graphic online published an article titled “Boost for Sanitation Efforts, Ghana First to build 20,000 modern toilet facilities across the country. Ghana first company limited, a waste management company has signed a memorandum of understanding with Thermodul system GmBH, a German company, to construct 20,000 units of modern toilets facilities across the country at a cost of $300,000.000.00. The agreement for the construction of the facilities was signed on Tuesday, April 24, 2018 between the Chief executive officer (CEO) Mr. Frank Akulley and Managing Director of Thermodul System GmBH in Accra, Ms. Lidia Mathe. The company has entered into a public private partnership (PPP) with Metropolitan, Municipals and Districts Assemblies (MMDAs) to construct these facilities nationwide.” 
Stated differently in an ordinary language, Ghana First Company limited took a move to eradicate open defecation in the country. The company therefore entered into a PPP arrangement with the government represented by Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development. The company therefore, capitalized on the MOU signed between Ghana First Company Limited and Thermodul and published it as an agreement signed and sealed. It reported that Thermodul System GmBH would release a total of $300,000.000.00 in tranches to finance these projects. Contractors were made to believe that funds were available in Ghana, and therefore, the contractor just has to raise the structure, provide roofing and outside plastering to pave way for the automation. At this level of completion the employer together with Bank after collaborative visit would release 60% of the contract sum to the contractor to complete the project. Contractors were made to pay 2% upfront of the contract sum to Ghana first company limited before award letters and various sites were handed over to the contractor

The Business Model of Ghana First Toilet Facilities
The business model of Ghana First Company limited was structured to provide ultramodern toilet facilities across the country. These toilets would be automated which will pave way for automatic flushing. This will assist the company to determine the number of visit at a particular point in time. Because of the automation, the company was going to provide its own water closets. As part of the model, GFCL was also going to provide its own wall and floor tiles in order to obtain uniformities in their buildings. The model was not clear on either constructing of septic tank or Bio digester systems. The project manager therefore asked contractors to desist from construction of septic tank for now as clear consensus has not been reached on this issue.
Meanwhile, the bill of quantities given to contractors already includes tiles, toilet seats and septic tank. So this means that, the employer was going to deduct all these items from the bills of quantities at the time of paying final certificate, whiles, the employer has already taking 2% of the contract sum at the beginning of the contract awarding.
Scope of Work
The scope of work consists of a Substructure, Superstructure, roofing, and outside plastering to pave way for the automation process. The duration of the project was three (3) months. Payment of 60% of the contract sum would be released to the contractor after a collaborative visit by the employer and the bankers as specified in section 39.1. Contractors started submitting demands for payment from July 2018. The employer then issued certified Payment Certificates to contractors from April, 2019.
Address to Key themes in GFCL press release 
It was clearly stated that about 98% of the contractors did not read to understand the contractual obligations with respect to payment.
We want to state categorically that, we have read the contract terms clearly in relation to payments subject to Section 5 (IV). That the contractor agrees that the contract is a Turnkey project, the contractor shall be paid only upon full completion and hand over of the entire project.
Section 39.1 without prejudice to clause 5(IV) of the contract agreement, the employer reserves the right to pay part of the total sum amounting to 60% of the quantum sum after collaborative site visit and inspection is done by the employer, the bankers and the contractor.
This means that the employer will release 60% of the contract sum to contractors after a collaborative visit. The 60% was not a stage of completion or work done, but it was a percentage of the contract sum that, the employer would release to the contractor after the collaborative visit.
In our case, the employer has visited the various sites, he is satisfied with our work and based on that, the employer is highly motivated about the progress of work and has issued certified Payment Certificates for payment.
So we the contractors are even expecting the employer to even pay us more in an event where the certified certificate is not equivalent to the 60% of the contract sum.
Up to date of publishing this paper, contractors have not received a penny from the company since July 2018 when we started demanding for payment for works done.
Upon this, we also want the CEO to know and be aware that section 52.2 subsection (d) states that a fundamental breaches of the contract occurs when “a payment certified by the project manager is not paid by the employer to the contractor within 84 days of the date of the project manager’s certificate.’

A project is suitable on a Turnkey basis of an infrastructure project or other type of development where;
(1) A higher degree of certainty of final price of the project and time is required.
(2) The contractor takes total responsibility for the design and execution of the project with little involvement of the employer.
(3) Under the arrangements for Turnkey projects, the Contractor carries out all the Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) providing a fully- equipped facility ready for operation, (at the “turn of the key”).
(4) The Employer shall make an advance payment as an interest free loan for mobilization and design, when the Contractor submits a guarantee/security in accordance with the conditions of contract.
From the above definition of Turnkey projects, The Ghana First Company Ltd projects cannot be classified as a” Turnkey Project” due to the following:
a. The final price of the project and other quotations was not determined and quoted by the employer.
b. the employer took responsibility for the design and supply of some essential items such as tiles, complete water closets and other accessories that will pave wave for the automation and self-flushing image of the these facilities.
c. The employer did not provide any mobilization or whatsoever, but rather took 2% of the contract sum from the contractors before awarding projects to them.

i. The press release also cautioned contractors to desist from the expectancy of receiving payment from the government. The government was therefore advised not to entertain any pressure from the contractors and allow Ghana first to deal with the contractors itself. Contractors were advised to note that, the relationship between GFCL and the contractors was purely a private business arrangement.
We want to state that, we disagree, because the contract agreement is not purely private, based on the following information.
a. On 7th May, 2018 Graphic online published that “The company has entered into a public private partnership (PPP) with Metropolitan, Municipals and Districts Assemblies (MMDAs) to construct these facilities nationwide.”
b. The Ministry of local Government and Rural Development also gave an introductory letter to Ghana First with reference to their letter SCR \F6101\412\6 dated 9th August, 2017 signed by the Deputy Minister, Mr. O. B Amoah. “We have no objection to the request to engage the MMDAs to subject to the laid down process for the PPP program”
c. The ministry of Sanitation and Water Resources also gave an introductory letter to Ghana first with reference to TA\25\227\07 dated 29th May, 2017 signed by the Honorable Minister, Dr. Kofi Adda. “The Ministry of Sanitation and water Resources has subjected the facility to technical and financial reviews and its viability and sustainability is not in doubt. I therefore wish to introduce to you Messrs Ghana First Company Limited and invite you to accord the company your utmost assistance to ensure this laudable project come into fruition in your district. The project has the potential of reducing open defecation in our cities and towns and creates jobs for our teeming unemployed youth.”

ii. The press release also noted that, some contractors were given financial assistance for the projects and they rather misappropriated the funds by sending their wards abroad and some also bought vehicles with the financial assistance.
We want to state clearly that, Ghana First company have not been fair to us ‘contractors’ and the actions and activities of the CEO has not been consistent with the agreement signed with the contractors. We also want to state that, this statement is completely false and irresponsible on his part as the CEO and therefore we totally condemn it outright.
In the said press release on bulletin 15 it states that “GFCL wishes to inform all contractors intending to construct our projects that they will be required to pay 2% of the contract sum, non-refundable, as a processing fee, which is one of the company’s requirements”.
On January 28, 2019 a statement published by Sweet Molodies 94.3fm online states that “the CEO said he has awarded about 1,800 projects and that about 500 are at various stages of completion.
Now for example, based on his figures, if he has awarded 1,800 projects and assuming the average contract sum is Gh¢ 350,000.00; Thus 1,800 * 350,000.00 = Gh¢ 630,000,000.00
This means the total contract sum awarded is Gh¢ 630,000,000.00, the company took 2% of this sum upfront before awarding the contract. Thus Gh¢ 630,000,000.00 * 2% = Gh¢ 12,600,000.00. So what it means is that, the contractors have given Mr. Akulley, CEO of Ghana First limited an amount of Gh¢ 12,600,000.00. So out of this funds that Mr. Akulley has paid out a paltry sum of mobilization to a few of our colleagues, which he calls financial assistance in an event where some of our members may have ran into some difficult situations, such as Bank interest accruals, conflicts with suppliers and others. The Financial Assistance that Mr. Akulley has allegedly given out is about Gh¢ 5,400,000.00 as per his paper published some months ago.

We have been dealing closely with Ghana First Company Ltd over a year now, and we have taken all the necessary steps to engage him on several occasions and the evidence gathered so far includes the following:
1. We have sent several letters to Ghana First company limited which includes,
● Disclosure of sources of funds or proof of funds
● Engagement of an arbitrator 
● Provision of a contractors database to the association
All these letters have not been responded to by the Ghana First Company Limited
2. In May this year, we met with the CEO at their office Premises for a meeting and he told us point blank that, as at the time of that meeting, he does not have the money to pay us, so he wanted us to write him a letter demanding for funds to complete the project, so that he may attach it to some documents he was going to use to secure a loan from GCB.
This issue brought a serious panic to us, the question was, how would someone go ahead to issue contracts to individuals whilst the entity does not have the resources to finance the projects? And as at today, the company keeps on awarding new contracts to whoever is ready to pay their 2% of the contract sum to them. We want GFCL to know that it’s a criminal offence to purport to award contracts without funds available to pay Contractors for works done.

3. If the company really believes in the going – concern of the company, why will it be so difficult for the company to pay certified Payment Certificates that the company itself has issued to its contractors to complete the projects?

If the company has the funds to pay for these projects, why will the company call for contractors to write for Financial Assistance for consideration at the purview of the CEO? We also want to state that we reject the position of GFCL that Contractors should apply for financial assistance because it’s not been provided for in the Contract Agreement.

4. We are therefore challenging Ghana First company limited that, if indeed they are “Genuine’ as they claim and they have the money, then we are giving them seven (7) days ultimatum from the day of publishing this paper to honor its payment certificates as a responsible company.

We will be left with no other option than to mount serious demonstrations, so that, the whole world would know about all these scandalous activities carried out by GFCL.

● We suggest that government takes the necessary steps to perform a forensic audit on the company.
● We also plead with the government to intervene as early as possible to avoid another financial scam in the country, because any pending financial scam could be unhealthy for us as a country and it will also create fear and panic in the country, going forward which may serve as a threat to foreigners wanting to invest in Ghana.
● At some sites, existing toilet facilities, which served the entire community was demolished to pave way for the 3 months ultra-modern project to take place, now these toilets facilities has been abandoned for months and years now, this has posed a serious problem at the affected communities causing a lot of anxiety among the populace. Our main challenge is that, if care is not taken, there might be outbreak of cholera and other diseases in these areas; therefore, we suggest a Government intervention as a matter of urgency to prevent this future epidemic disease. 
● We also call on all stakeholders including the Board of Directors of GFCL to help assist to solve this problem amicably.



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