In his examination in chief at the Justice Bankole Thompson Commission of Inquiry, Thomas Koroma the junior brother of former President Ernest Bai Koroma has confessed that he inflated the contract price for the construction of the NATCOM house from an initial $7,000,000 (seven million dollars) to over $17.
Led in evidence by State Counsel and recently elected President of the Sierra Leone Bar Association Lawyer R.B. Kowa, the former president’s brother said the $7, 000, 000 that was initially set aside was just an estimate and not the contract value.
He said as consultants, before they do architectural design for any client, they charge 10% of the total contract value. He was at pains to explain how construction contract values change as work progresses, and that often times, the consultants cost (confidential estimate) and the final bid price vary a lot depending on several factors like land location and design.
Mr. Thomas Koroma disclosed that his T.S and Company made over ten variations to the initial design of the NATCOM House, and advised the institutionn to alter the initial value of the structure.
He said the variations they made involved additional works which in turn incurred additional costs that jumped the contract cost from an initial $7m to over $17m.
Asked if he was aware of procurement rules and that if additional costs to a contract exceeded 25% of the intial cost it becomes a fresh one that should be advertised, Mr. Thomas Koroma said yes but that in the instance, both NATCOM and NPPA gave their approval to the additional cost but not advertised.
Lawyer Kowa even told him that NPPA was hesitant in giving approval and raised the red flag over the excessive cost of the contract.