NEWS

$33M DIGGER ‘SCAM’

More have been unearthed in the Water Authority of Fiji alleged scam. This time, it has been alleged that WAF spent more than $33 million to hire a digger for
21 Jun 2018 10:14
$33M DIGGER ‘SCAM’
A Water Authority of Fiji worksite in 2017. Photo: Water Authority of Fiji

More have been unearthed in the Water Authority of Fiji alleged scam.

This time, it has been alleged that WAF spent more than $33 million to hire a digger for 15 months.

This was identified in a second KPMG audit report sighted by the Fiji Sun.

The draft report reveals alleged abuse of funds dating back to 2016.

For the 15 months period ending March 31, 2017, the total cost of plant hire was $33,717,421.

The draft report was tabled to the WAF board which was in place in August 2017.

The report stated that WAF needs to “seriously consider the option of procuring vehicles and heavy machinery.

“The planning process in connection with the purchase of heavy machinery at WAF is not effective. In 2015, WAF acquired two brand new large steel track excavators which are based at Wailoku and Lautoka. We noted that the excavator was not fully utilised based on inquiry with staff in the Western Division. This was due to the fact that the buckets for the excavator were too large to be used in operations.”

The report also noted that the WAF Board had approved rates to be made for hire of plant equipment. However, higher rates were paid to the contractors without any Board approval.

It further revealed that a large steel track excavator was mainly used at the Natabua Waste Water Sewerage Plant for six months at $80 an hour. The same work could have easily been done by a medium steel track excavator at $45 an hour. WAF could have saved $25,497.50 by hiring a smaller sized excavator which would have done the same job.

In another instance, compared to the total charges paid to the contractor for works in Natabua of $59,119.25, the overcharge was about 65 per cent.

Furthermore, on paper, a large rubber track excavator was hired at a higher cost but a steel excavator was noted doing the job. It is cheaper to hire a steel track excavator. WAF paid the contractor $10,285 extra.

On 24 May 2017, a team from KPMG noted that an operator for one excavator started work at 9am but the WAF team arrived at the job site at 11am. They advised the KPMG team that there was no transport to take them to the job site.

On 26 May 2017, nine WAF vehicles were parked because either their wheel tax had expired and not renewed or was involved in an accident and not fixed.

Based on board papers, if an excavator was idle for more than 30 minutes, only 50 per cent of the normal rate was to be paid. However, this was not done and despite the equipment being left idle for hours, full amount was paid to the contractors.

Furthermore, KPMG team noted an excavator parked at a service station for an hour but there was no daily tally sheet filled to show that they would be paid half the rate.

The tally sheets were supposed to be filled daily by drivers and signed off daily by the WAF tally man. This was not the case. It was being done weekly without any proper records of how long the equipment was not in use.

Edited by Ranoba Baoa

Feedback:  jyotip@fijisun.com.fj



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