NEWS

Alleged Digger Scam: Water Authority of Fiji

Last year in June, it was al­leged that WAF spent more than $33 million to hire a digger for 15 months.
30 Jan 2019 11:13
Alleged Digger Scam: Water Authority of Fiji

The Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption (FICAC) confirmed that the investi­gation into the alleged Wa­ter Authority of Fiji digger scam of $33 million is still underway.

However, the Commission is not divulging any further information so as not to in­terfere with the investiga­tion processes.

Last year in June, it was 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 $33717,421.

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 $25497.50 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 $59119.25, 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 $10285 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 Susana Tuilau

Feedback: ashna.kumar@fijisun.com.fj

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