Last week, the Governor General of Papua New Guinea (On behalf of Her Majesty the Queen) awarded Treasurer Hon Don Pomb Polye an order of St Michael and St George. The award was for services to the people of Kandep and PNG in general
In consideration of this honour, PNG Echo has compiled a three-part series examining the Minister’s services to the people of Kandep and PNG in general.
In this first part we look how well he is delivering services to his electorate. In the second part we look at his record as a leader of his people and in the third we examine his national career.
Services to Kandep…
As I write, the Hon Treasurer, Don Pomb Polye, is visiting his electorate of Kandep where celebrations are scheduled to welcome back Enga’s favourite son. Or is he?
Writes PNG Echo.
…for the past 13+ years…there has been no tangible benefit to the people of Kandep.
The photographic evidence of the quality of the roads tends to underline that statement.
But it’s the ‘Wasa Bridge Project’ that stands as testimony to all that’s not right in Kandep which includes highlighting Polye’s improper handling of his relationship with the owner of construction company Kaystar Construction, Paul Kurai.
Kaystar Constructions was awarded contract No 22DSIP -01/2009 – Provincial Supply and Tendering Board (PTSB) No 1380 – Wasa Bridge.
I don’t know the estimated cost that was built into the contract by Kaystar but it has been mooted that “…the whole construction…would have cost about K1 million (including kick –backs!)” That’s if it had been built at all – and I’m informed it hasn’t been
The impropriety connected with the Wasa Bridge Project started with the awarding of the contract to Paul Kurai who has been called, by his detractors “…a pest with his K1 construction company….” It continued with highly irregular payments
For instance, in June 2010 (18 months after the contract was awarded), Kurai wrote to the Secretary, Department of Works stating that he would need an extra K12,780,838.01 to complete the project due to “…underscoping of the works.”
Two more invoices followed a few months later, one for K9,500,000 and another for K9,800,000 – that’s a whopping K31,080,838.01.
Is this the most expensive bridge in the World?
According to the documentation I have sighted – the company (Kaystar Constructions) was partially paid for the invoices they raised.
They received K11,040,544.56 in three separate payments, all on the same day – the largest was K7,000,000 which exceeded the amount that could be authorized by the PSTB by K1,000,000. It didn’t seem to matter and the sums were paid in what can only be described as ‘indecent haste to the contractor (three days) with scant regard to established procedures.
It’s safe to assume that these payments were in addition and supplementary to any payments already made – the quantum of which I am unaware.
According to a scribbled note on one of the invoices signed by Don Polye – “The balance of the invoice to be paid in due course when funds become available”
Polye himself approved the payment and instructed the monies come from the Transport “Trust Funds,” notwithstanding that invoices and correspondence were addressed to the Department of Works and that, conversely, the funding was supposed to come out of the Polye’s DSIP funds.
And what’s this then?
That makes the bridge’s cost, so far K71,080,831.01 (without considering anything expended on this project in 2009, 2011, 2012.)
The irony is, I’m told that the bridge is not built.
The enormous cost of the non-bridge leads to questions over the propriety of Don Polye’s relationship with Paul Kurai – the contractor, especially considering Polye’s political links to Kurai.
As well as recently being elected unopposed at the LLG elections (Wabag) for the fourth consecutive time, Paul Kurai is the President of Don Polye’s T.H.E Party.
Kurai stood as a candidate for the National Parliament in the 2012 government elections under the banner of the T.H.E Party.
When Polye was expelled by the National Alliance, Paul Kurai stood behind him as his champion. He’s been described as a National Alliance former “strongman.”
Under the circumstance, this contract must be seen for what it surely is – ‘jobs for the boys’.
It’s like Groundhog Day (something that’s lived over and over)
The ‘Wasa Bridge’ contract has the ingredients and many of the hallmarks of other corrupt activities in PNG. They are:
- Inappropriate interference and intervention by a high-ranking MP for a person very ‘close to’ that MP (like Eremas Wartoto and Paul Tiensten)
- Inflated contract awarded to someone ill-equipped to carry out the works who often doesn’t bother. (Wartoto again)
- A ‘slush fund’ or money accessed from an account that’s not approved for the purpose. (Findings of COI Finance)
- Established procedures not followed – thus bypassing all the inherent checks and balances of the system. (COI Finance again)
I hope the Hon Minister is not planning to cross the Wasa bridge while in Kandep today, I’m informed it’s not there.