Inadequate Port, Over Reliance on Imports Increased Roads Project Costs, Says Audit Report

Photo Collage of Work in Barzey’s and Judy Piece. Credit: GIU

The Office of the Auditor General presented its report entitled The Roads & Bridges Project: Governance &  Project Management to the Legislative Assembly on December 17th 2019.

Background:

The 3-year project began in 2015 with a projected cost of E.C.$4.20 million. This included three parts: (1) purchase of an asphalt-paver, (2) repairs to a bridge and part of the road at Barzey’s and (3) repairs to the bridge at Bunkum Bay. Full funding was provided by the U.K. Government through the DFID.

Key Findings:
(1) The project had a satisfactory framework of governance, with direct management by the Ministry of Communications &  Works, along with oversight by the Ministry of Finance and by the DFID.
(2) All three parts of the project were completed, and largely within budgeted costs and time, despite reduced funding and some delays in obtaining parts, materials, and other inputs from time to time.
(3) There are high risks from reliance on imports. Too few of the commonly used items are produced locally. Projects are often affected by shortages, by fluctuating prices, and by issues with suppliers.
(4) Imports are often delayed as the Little Bay port has no breakwater. Many supply ships cannot come to Montserrat directly, resulting in longer transit and higher shipping & handling costs.
Rough seas prevent boats from docking, causing delays in getting inputs and delays in projects.

Key Recommendations
(1) Increase the funding for infrastructure/maintenance. Given the value of the assets at risk, and the range of other risk factors, MCWEL must get better support (e.g., from MOFEM and from the DFID) for eliminating the backlog of repairs and maintenance across the public sector, and for adequate preventative maintenance of public assets to reduce long-term costs. This also requires adequate funding for investments in essential new projects e.g., ports, roads, bridges, and energy.
(2) Produce more items locally. E.g., the hot mix factory, which has had long downtime, could be reactivated to produce construction materials at lower cost than imports. Rehabilitation of the Trant’s quarry would further reduce the imports of materials such as road base and aggregates.
The full audit report highlights several other findings and recommendations. Their implementation will bring significant improvements in governance of projects and better infrastructure for economic growth.

Download the audit report here –>PERFORMANCE AUDIT – ROADS BRIDGES PROJECT AUGUST 2019

The report in its entirety can also be found at the Montserrat Public Library or online at www.gov.ms or by requesting an electronic copy from the Office of the Auditor General.