Posted on: www.dailyguideghana.com
By William Yaw Owusu
Monday, April 25, 2017
Bright Simons, a social innovator and researcher, has done another review of the contract signed between the Mahama-led National Democratic Congress (NDC) government and the Middle East Resources Investment Group LLC, otherwise known as AMERI Group or AMERI Energy, exposing Engineers and Planners’ (E&P’s) involvement in the whole contract.
He said the amount quoted in the contract that was awarded in favour of E&P - a company owned by Ibrahim Mahama, younger brother of former President John Mahama - to do civil works for the AMERI plants to be fixed was outrageous and should not have happened.
It is turning out that E&P was allegedly paid around GH¢25 million by the then NDC government for the civil works and even that, it could not complete the site preparation for the installation of 10 General Electric TM 2500 aeroderivative gas turbines.
The controversial $510 million project is currently located at the Aboadze Power Enclave, near Takoradi in the Western Region.
A special 17-member committee set up by the Ministry of Energy, with popular lawyer Phillip Addison as Chairman, to restructure the $510 million Build, Own, Operate and Transfer (BOOT) Agreement between Ghana and AMERI Energy, has recommended to the government to call back owners of the Dubai-based company for renegotiation.
It turned out that AMERI Energy was charging over $150 million commission and therefore, the Addison Committee came to the conclusion that if AMERI Energy refused to honour the invitation for re-negotiation, the government had the right to renounce the agreement on the grounds of fraud.
The committee had concluded that although fully paid, “E&P have demobilized from the site without completion of the works,” and said that the action of Ibrahim Mahama’s company amounted to “a breach of E&P’s contract with GoG.”
Mr. Simmons, who is the founder and president of mPedigree and leading member of IMANI Ghana – a think-tank - had done value for money analysis and raised thought-provoking queries about E&P’s involvement in the deal.
“First: Why is Engineers & Planners asking to be paid the full sum when it hasn't completed the work on the AMERI site and yet demobilised? Even more pertinent: Why didn't AMERI pay for this work? Which of the over 40 IPPs that have signed PPAs with ECG or VRA has the Government of Ghana paid for their civil works?”
In an indepth analysis, Mr. Simmons said,“GE, the manufacturers of the TM2500+, says each unit requires 24m x 6.5m footprint. We bought 10 units and implemented a standard rectangular grid layout. Let's be wasteful of space and say we needed 360m x 90m of space. That's about 32400 square meters.”
He added, “Engineers and Planners was hired to do: Earthworks, Compacting, Grading, Drainage, as part of site preparation for the hosting of the Ameri plant.
“No concreting, foundation reinforcement or structural works were done. Remember these plants are trailer-mounted so structural support is embedded in the system itself.
“Consultancy civil engineering cost estimation manual you want in the world and use the most liberal fudge factors for labour and material costs. You would struggle to hit $20 per m2 for these activities.”
Mr Simons cited an example that Accra Mall rents out each square meter of space at $55 (up from $26 a few years ago) saying, “If they had paid even $5 per m2 for civil works would they be able to rent out at $55 and cover all their project costs and still make a profit?
“Yet we go ahead and pay a mind-boggling $185 per square meter (m2) to clear land and compact it to receive 10 trailers.”
In December 2015 - in the heat of the AMERI deal debate - E&P rejected claims by then opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) that it was involved in the controversial AMERI Energy agreement.
A statement the company issued said, E&P “is in no way involved and has no role in AMERI’s contract with the Government of Ghana and the purchase or sourcing of power turbines by AMERI for the generation of power.”
The statement had said that E&P was only “contracted by the Volta River Authority (VRA) to undertake some civil works at Aboadze to prepare a platform to receive the power generating units and other ancillary equipment for the AMERI 250MW Power Project,” and had since “handed over the completed platform to the VRA” after finishing its work.