Contract for the much-talked about city hall of the Freetown City Council, which was demolished sometime in 2010, will be awarded in December 2016 as six Korean companies submit bids to do the construction.

Freetown Street 4

This was disclosed to Concord Times Tuesday by the Freetown City Council Engineer, Horatio Max Gorvie, in an exclusive interview at his Bi-Centenary House office in Freetown.

Ing. Gorvie said that although construction work is yet to start, a lot of work is being done behind the scenes. He added that the Government of Sierra Leone and the Freetown City Council, with support from the Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, have secured a fifty-four million United States Dollars (US$54m) loan from the Government of Korea to construct the city hall.

“The Korean Government, through a Korean bank, hired a consultant to do some feasibility studies on the Freetown City Hall in 2012-2013. The aim was to rebuild the hall, which was destroyed by fire and was demolished in 2010,” he said. He added that when the consultant arrived in Freetown, many stakeholders, including those in the theatre art, politicians, journalists, students, engineers and architects, among others, were spoken to and a document called “the feasibility report on Freetown” was compiled.

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He disclosed that the feasibility report led to the signing of an agreement for the loan, noting that the loan agreement led to the procurement process of the reconstruction of the Freetown City Administrative Complex, formerly called the Freetown City Hall’.

“This administrative complex will be five times nicer than the former city hall. The Samoo Architects and Engineers is the consulting firm and it was tasked with the preparation of the bidding document, design and drawings of the city complex, supervising the project in its entirety. They have begun the task by doing the draft of the bidding document and the designs but they were disturbed by the Ebola outbreak in 2014,” he disclosed and added that after the Ebola the consultants started from where they stopped and that the bidding and design documents have been completed.

He disclosed that they have gone into contracting proper, which is limited to Korean companies, adding that they took into consideration the local content element because a lot of benefits would accrue to the Sierra Leonean contractors.

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He said six Korean companies have submitted bids, adding that after evaluation, the contract will be awarded to one of the companies and by first week in December 2016 the site will be handed over to the successful bidder.

Asked about claims made by people that the site has been transformed into a parking lot for vehicle owners, he responded by saying that the central business district of Freetown has no parking lot.

He added that the Freetown City Council wants to ensure that tax payers are being catered for and minimise traffic congestion.

“Since the construction exercise has not yet taken place, the council engaged few agencies around the facility and they are paying small amount of money for parking their cars there. In fact only one entity is currently paying on a monthly arrangement to the council for parking at the facility, but they will be asked out when the council wants to use the site,” he said, adding that it is just a temporary arrangement to ease congestion within the city.

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Quizzed about what residents of Freetown will expect from the proposed administrative complex when it will have been constructed, Ing. Gorvie said it goes beyond just an administrative complex as it will provide a lot of services to many people.

“The complex will have administrative offices, a council hall, auditorium, place for exhibition, a city hall where the theatre people will premiere movies and other things, a lounge that will look like a recreational facility where mayors from other countries will be probably accommodated, a gym, canteen, and a library, among other facilities,” he told our reporter.

He disclosed that the edifice will have 14 floors above ground and three below ground, adding that the construction will probably take about 24 months, with a grace period to allow contractors to mobilise their equipment.

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When asked if the local content would be considered in the construction process, Ing. Gorvie disclosed that the Korean component with regards human resource will be fewer than 10 percent because they will have to provide the skills for the job.

“It is going to be a reinforced concrete structure and only the furnishing and finishing is going to come from overseas. I said reinforced concrete because it is going to use iron rods, cements, different grades of sand and stone, and most of them are generated in Sierra Leone and most of the supplies will be done by Sierra Leoneans,” he said and noted that the bulk of the work and most of the work force will be Sierra Leoneans.