Ghana National Fire Service, Tema – Newtown station entrance
A Corruption Watch (CW) investigation has found that several bags of cement donated to the Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS) by the Ghana Cement Foundation (GHACEM Foundation) had been sold.
CW discovered that the 200 bags of cement donated to the Tema New Town District of the GNFS never made it to any of the premises of the GNFS. Instead, the cement ended up in a private facility where 136 of the bags were sold.
The District Fire Officer (DFO), Naomi Quarshie who applied for and received the cement on behalf of the GNFS admitted in a follow up interview with CW that the 200 bags of cement never made it to any fire station, adding that the purpose for which she applied for the cement had not been achieved.
The spokespersons for both GHACEM and GNFS expressed concern about the development.
Solomon Ayiah, Ag. Director for Strategy and Corporate Affairs of GHACEM said the company was embarking on their internal investigation into the findings of CW.
The Public Relations Officer of GNFS, Elis Robertson Okoe told CW that a breach of procedures in utilizing or storing the cement has punishable implications.
The GHACEM Cement Foundation was established in 2002 as the main driver of GHACEM’S Corporate Social Responsibility programmes under which over 5,000 communities have benefited.
Corruption Watch (CW) findings indicated that some of the donations that are made to some state institutions are not used for the actual purpose for which the requests were made.
CW learnt that GHACEM has over the years cautioned institutions that benefit from their donations to stick to the purpose for which the donations were made.
In 2005, Mr. Morten Gade, Managing Director of GHACEM admonished beneficiaries of the donations to use the cement for the purpose for which they were awarded during a presentation of allocation letters to communities in the Greater Accra, Brong Ahafo, Upper West, and Eastern Regions.
CW Investigation and Findings
CW set out to find out what has become of some of the donations made by GHACEM in 2017 to three state institutions –Tema General Hospital, Eastern Naval Command of the Ghana Armed Forces, and Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS).
Ghana National Fire service
Newtown Fire Station’s current offices
The section of the compound where the new offices were supposed to be sited
In 2017, the GNFS wrote a letter to GHACEM for cement to construct two new offices for officers because the station had limited offices to serve as offices for the 30 staff, a project the DFO said was to promote effective work by GNFS personnel.
At the time of the donation, the Newtown Fire Station had six offices and one conference room. The offices were the Watch and Control room, District Fire Officer’s office, Crew Room, Administration office, the office of the Second- In- Command (II IC) and the store, which is the office of the store keeper.
At the time of filing this report, September 2018, the number of rooms at the station were still the same, six offices and a conference room although GHACEM had said during the donation that the GNFS was supported because of the urgent need to provide offices for personnel.
“We are particularly proud to support the Tema New Town Fire Station of the Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS) because of the urgent need to provide offices for personnel and also due to the fact that they fall within our area of operation,” Solomon Ayiah said, according to a Daily Graphic report of May 16, 2017.
From (3rd left), Solomon Ayiah with his colleague, John Savage-Mensah (2nd left), handing over the document covering the cement to Naomi Quarshie
CW discovered that the 200 bags of cement to the Tema New Town District of the GNFS never made it to any of the premises of the GNFS.
CW found that after loading the bags of cement from the premises of GHACEM, the cement ended up in a private facility.
CW visited the premises of the Tema Newtown Fire Station to ascertain the stage of the construction.
However, CW discovered that not even a foundation had been laid to indicate an attempt to construct the two offices.
After several days of failed attempts to get the fire station to disclose the whereabouts of the 200 bags of cement, the Newtown station eventually called CW investigator, Francisca Enchill to inspect the cement.
Before setting off to the said location, the Station’s commander, the DFO explained that her station lacked the storage facility to store the 200 bags of cement, as she originally sent for 50 bags but had to take all 200 after GHACEM refused to allow them claim part and insisted they carry all 200 bags at a go.
She therefore got a cement shop which was no longer in use and took the decision on her own to use the said place for the storage.
She said she initially declined showing CW investigator the location because the shop had been locked up as the caretaker was out of town.
Commercial Cement store
The cement store
CW investigator was led to a commercial cement shop by name CHARTEH ENTERPRISE, Tema Mahean, a two-minutes walk from the Fire Station at exactly 11:25 am and the shop was fully operational with the owner of the shop actively doing business contrary to the initial claim by the DFO that the shop was not in use for business purposes.
Upon further interactions, it was revealed that the 200 bags of cement which never made it to the premises of the GNFS were actually offloaded to CHARTEH ENTERPRISE from where 64 bags were taken and the remaining 136 bags sold at the time of CW visit.
According to her, the 200 bags were offloaded into Charteh Enterprise on May 31, 2017 after which 24 out of the 64 bags were diverted for use within her station and 40 bags were sent to the Regional Headquarters upon a request by the Regional Fire Officer, Frances Rockson for purposes different from what the cement was meant for.
Reason for sale
The reason given for the sale of the cement, however, was that, it was to prevent the cement from caking in storage. The owner of the cement store told CW she would give the service cement from her stock when they need them.
GNFS official statement
When the Public Relations Officer of the GNFS, Mr. Okoe, was contacted on the service procedure for storage of donations, he disclosed that per the policy of the institution, donations received at the district office must be transferred to the Regional and then to the National if both the district and regional lack the facility to store the donations received.
He said the institution’s laws did not permit officers to store anything received in the name of the service in private facilities as they have enough storage space in the service.
He explained that if the district has no storage facility, the donating company can decide to store it for them till the district is ready to use them.
He indicated that the GNFS follows the Public Procurement law for storage and procurement like every other state institution, hence a breach of the procedure has punishable implications.
Meanwhile, the GNFS was not the only state institution that benefited from the donations by the GHACEM Foundation in 2017. Among the beneficiaries were the Eastern Naval Command and the Tema General Hospital. However, the story was different when CW did a comparative investigation to find out how the two institutions utilized the donations they received.
Tema General Hospital
Morten Gade, Managing Director of GHACEM presenting the cement to the hospital
The Tema General Hospital received a donation of 1,000 bags of GHACEM cement in September 2017 to assist the institution to rehabilitate an abandoned surgical unit.
When CW visited the hospital to ascertain the stage of construction, it was discovered that the rehabilitation had not been done.
When CW contacted officials of the hospital, it was revealed that despite presenting a ceremonial cement to the hospital in 2017, the facility had not been rehabilitated because the hospital had been following the procurement laws and had gone through the necessary stages to get approval to commence the project.
The processes required included an assessment by engineers to determine whether the abandoned building is strong enough for rehabilitation or required demolition for a completely new structure to be reconstructed.
When asked of the whereabouts of the 1,000 bags of donated cement, it was discovered that the hospital, lacking the needed storage facility for 1,000 bags decided to keep the entire 1,000 bags of cement under the custody of GHACEM to ensure safety and to prevent the cement from caking before the hospital puts them to use.
Eastern Naval Command of Ghana Armed Forces
Before the request for cement support from GHACEM
Eastern Naval Command Administration block under construction
The Eastern Naval Command, also located at Tema Newtown also received 400 bags of cement in August 2017 for the reconstruction of their administration block after the collapse of their existing administration block.
When CW investigator visited the Eastern Naval Command, the foundation of the administration block was near completion and work was underway.
It was gathered that authorities were in talks with the construction workers to work longer hours for the construction to move at a faster pace.
At the time of the visit this month, cement blocks were being manufactured at their premises.
Information gathered at the Eastern Naval Command indicated that authorities were concerned about storage for the 400 bags hence, went into an agreement with GHACEM to store all the 400 bags of cement at GHACEM. They, thus, go in for the number needed at any point in time.
This move they said was to prevent the stored cement from caking for being stored for too long as the construction moves in stages.
Source: Francisca Enchill @ ghanaweb.com