By Ben Rosario
The Commission on Audit has smelled something fishy in the implementation of some P299 million in infrastructure projects in Aurora province when it was discovered that the same set of workers and equipment were tapped at the same time to work on a number of projects.
COA, in its 2017 annual audit report for Aurora provincial government, said it was “physically impossible” for the contractor to work simultaneously on the projects which are ‘far apart” in location.
“The same is true with the deployment of construction (workers) and heavy equipment,” COA said.
Audit examiners said Construction Safety and Health Programs for the 72 infrastructure projects were not approved by the Department of Labor and Employment , thus leaving the province “without anyh official standaards against which to measure the contractor’s commitment in ensuring the safety of its workers and the public in general” during the construction period.
The audit agency scolded the Bids and Awards Committee and the Technical Working Group assigned by the province for failing to flag the areas of possible irregularity.
Auditors said these should have been”valid grounds for the disqualification” of the bidders for the contracts that were to be executed simultaneously.
The awarding of overlapping projects to the same contractors could “expos[e] the government to various risks such as delay in project accomplishment and/or substandard quality of work,” COA warned.
The auditors four of the seven contractors awarded contracts with overlapping project implementation recorded delays in completion from nine to 169 days.
“Given the simultaneous project duration and the far-apart locations of the projects, being present at the projects sites all at the same time would be physically impossible,” auditors had to point out.
The contractors who failed to complete their projects in time were the RMCR Construction, IRC Construction, VB Donato Construction and Amansec Builders.
“As shown, the overlapping contracts where the same set of manpower and equipment were committed, compromised the timely completion of the projects which resulted in delayed delivery of the services and benefits that were envisioned to flow from the said projects,” observed COA.
While admitting that delinquent contractors paid P79,116.16 in liquidated damages, the fact remains that the provincial government failed address issues during the post qualification and evaluation of the bidding documents submitted by the winning firms.
The projects involved the construction of water and flood control systems, road concreting, classrooms, covered courts and multipurpose buildings.