POLICE INVESTIGATE AKIRIKI ROAD PROJECT

Minister Ngwele standing with senior police inspectors and jailed former Public Works Director Samuel Namuri.

Two former state ministers and a senior public servant are being investigated for their alleged involvement in the Akiriki project, another case headed by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of the Vanuatu Police Force.

The Akiriki project is the construction of the 200 meters tar-sealed road from the Paray Catholic church right up to the Ramada hotel in Port Vila, which cost around VT18 million.

Minister for Infrastructure and Public Utilities, Jay Ngwele, said according to the law, the threshold for contracts that can be given by the minister at the time was VT5 million, but instead the project was around VT18 million.

“According to Police the case is another clear example of breach of the Tender Act that politicians are involved in it and we need to redress that by setting a precedent so that this government and future ones abide to the law when it comes to awarding projects,” said Mr Ngwele.

The Minister lodge an official complaint on Wednesday morning after visiting one of the prime witnesses in this case, jailed former Director, Samuel Namuri, with the investigation team. Mr Namuri had been sent to jail for five years after he tried to obtain financial advantage by deception to the Government.

“I am satisfied on the visit to the Correctional Centre, as I spoke to the former Public Works Director Namuri who has given his agreement to stand as a witness to this case, as he wrote a risk assessment report on the project that gives a clear picture on what should be followed and how the project should be carried out,” Mr Ngwele explained.

According to the contract signed by the two former ministers, the works on the projects started on February 1, 2017 but the Council of Ministers decision was made on March 2017, a month after the work had started.

“This case is quite interesting in the sense that the government paid a hotel company group (Akiriki) which is not a contractor for Road construction and Maintenance and therefore breaches the Tender Act as no tender has been given for this project,” Mr. Ngwele said.

The case has been registered on Wednesday this week and Daily Post has been informed that the former ministers and the senior civil servant will be cautioned on that matter in the coming days.

When he took office on April 22 this year, Minister Ngwele requested an investigation team led by senior police inspectors to investigate illegal contracts obtained by Members of Parliament.

So far three criminal cases have been lodged against three MPs and two civil servants who allegedly helped facilitate them obtaining the contracts through the tender processes.

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