Dear Editor – I guess what the critics wants is where the finger pointing will rest on this issue thus, as responsible officer I must respond putting in the (National Parliament Office) NPO side of the story.
The National Parliament of Solomon Islands (NPSI) experienced frequent adjournment of Parliament Sittings caused by lack of quorum. Parliament could not conduct its business without a quorum and often the Speaker adjourned Parliament to the next sitting day.
Since the formation of the tenth Parliament in 2014, traffic jams has been raised by Members of Parliament (MP) as the impeding factor for punctuality to Parliament sittings.
During that time, traffic jams were so bad that travelling to Parliament can take up to one or two hours.
Consequently, adjournment of Parliament to the next sitting day became frequent and attracted public concerns.
Nevertheless adjournment of a sitting due to lack of quorum is a very expensive exercise that has impacts on NPO budget and MPs time.
This is the basis to have a new road into the heart of Honiara city where both MPs and NPO staff can have an alternative access into Parliament precinct. Ministers and government officials with offices located west of Honiara central business district travel all the way to Parliament via the Vavaya Ridge road.
Parliament is so close to the main CBD but yet so far in terms of vehicle accessibility. Furthermore, the Honiara road improvement project currently underway is another factor taken into consideration thus, consolidating the need for a new access road to be constructed urgently to allow free movement of all stakeholders connected to Parliament business.
With Parliament 2017 budget sitting fast approaching in December 2016, NPO opted to seek CTB approval for a waiver to the tender processes to allow work to start immediately.
The proposal for a waiver was sent to CTB but was rejected with CTB recommending a call for Expression of Interest to Registered Contractors with MID.
Three registered Contractors responded to the call of expression of interest and NPO MTB recommended L J Allied Trade due to cost factors as the most affordable.
During its initial stage the project went very well and NPO is happy at the rate of work undertaken. However, it suddenly came to the attention of NPO, Parliamentary House Committee and the Public that work slowed down in around March/April 2017.
The NPO Admin consulted with the contractor in April and was assured of the completion of the road by April.
However no further progress transpired thereafter. NPO later found out that there was a split amongst the workers and the contractor which caused the work to stop. Request for the Contractor to come forward and explain the situation fails.
NPO is currently working with MID to assess the work done thus far against the paid sum of $1,471,491.50 with respect to the total project cost of $3 million.
The assessment carried out will determine further actions thereon. Tar sealing and setting of drainage are the work that is yet to be done on this project.
Although at this stage the access road is incomplete, it is currently used by NPO staff, Members of Parliament, Government Officials, Parliament Service Contractors and government Ministries situated along Vavaya Ridge.
It has already served its purpose as an alternative access road for NPSI. All that is required is to tar seal the road with smooth drainage.
Clerk to National Parliament