GUADALCANAL provincial executive has threatened to take legal action against MS Finay Building Construction Firm to resolve a pending dispute over disparities in bill charges for the construction work at its headquarters at Kukum, east Honiara.
The dispute over the bill charge and none payment by the Guadalcanal Provincial Government saw a halt to the construction of the new provincial administration block adjacent to its present headquarters.
MS Finjay building Construction was engaged after a public tender in 2012, to build the new provincial administration next to the existing building, estimated to cost $12 million.
Since completion of phase two of the building project, the contractor claimed the provincial government has yet to pay up an outstanding bill of $1.8 million for the extension job.
Prolonged delay in settling the bill by the Guadalcanal Provincial Government had forced the contractor threatening to sell the building to recover its money.
As part of its attempt to recoup the payment, the company locked out the Provincial employees from entering their work place recently.
The workers were later allowed to enter their offices and other work venues but the row over non-payment of the $1.8 million bill still looms between the two parties.
Guadalcanal Province Deputy Premier, Rolland Seleso has decided to go public about the issue by speaking to the media.
Mr Seleso said the right avenue opened for both parties to resolve their differences of opinions over the bill charge is through the courts.
He said from the first phase, the administrator then made a mistake involving some provincial officers.
He pointed out that initially the awarded contractor won the bid on the proposed building site covering 30 square meters.
Mr Seleso said the original bill of $12 million was based on that space size to be taken up by building.
He said unfortunately, the 30 square meters space was reduced by seven square meters as required by the Honiara City Council town and country planning board.
Mr Seleso said the reduction in space size thus automatically reduces the total bill from its original quotation.
The deputy Premier said irrationally the contractor maintained the same charge, arguing it had already received the official approval from some senior staff members of the Provincial Government and other responsible government ministries to stick to the original bill.
Mr Seleso said officers involved were from the Ministry of Infrastructure Development (MID)who inspected the proposed building and gave approval to proceed with construction work.
He further alleged the same thing happened when the contractor was given the okay to continue into the second phase of construction.
He said these agreements and approvals were made without the knowledge of the Provincial Executive.
He said the provincial executive had questioned the credibility of such deal since it was done between officers of MID, the provincial government and the contractor.
Mr Seleso said surprisingly the chief architecture from MID had confirmed his office did not approve of such plan in the construction phases.
“This job was done right in front of those leaders and administrators who no doubt were fully aware of what went wrong but had intentionally neglected their duty to get things right by pretending not to be aware of it,” he said.
Mr Seleso said the failure to do the right thing by the responsible officers had incurred costs to the Provincial Government to the tune of $15 million under the Provincial Government and Institutional Strengthening fund.
MS Finjay building Construction however, claimed Guadalcanal Provincial Executive failed to fulfil its promise to make the final variation payment for the construction work done on the building.
The company said it had submitted invoices for the remaining unpaid bill for payment but the Guadalcanal Provincial Government had still refused to settle the bill.
But the deputy Premier argued the reason being the contractor had made excessive charges on the variation payment claim, which do not agree with the total cost invoice documents shown on the actual costs for materials.
He said the Provincial Executive will not be easily misled into bowing to a questionable demand which is illegal.
The deputy premier said the outstanding unpaid bill claim will remain as it is until either the contractor pursues a legal challenge to justify its claim or the Provincial Executive takes the company to court to prove it wrong.
By BRADFORD THEONOMI