Somaliland Government spent $222,153 US Dollars on the redesign and the construction of the new war memorial in the center of Hargeisa. The new design, built by Zak Construction, consists of a stepped platform, five concrete pillars with the MiG-17 fighter jet perched on top of an arch, and a garden with shaded areas for the public.
The monument looks culturally out of place and risks whitewashing the grim history of death and destruction visited upon the people of Somaliland and gives the impression that the elevated jet was defending the people of Somaliland and is being glorified. The design seems to be Soviet-inspired and looks like a budget version of the Soviet Memorial Tiergarten in Berlin. These are some of the public criticism of the monument that was all but ignored.
The semi-finished monument differs a lot from the design rendering that was hung at the site when the redesign was announced. It is a lot smaller where the MiG-17, clad with a freshly painted Somalia flag, dominates the structure and is facing the wrong direction.
Although the original weight of a MiG-17 without its weapons payload is around 4.3 tons, the historical artifact that is on top of the monument does not contain the monstrous Klimov VK-1 engine which will put the fighter jet at roughly 3 tons, and according to construction experts, there is no indication that high-strength concrete was used because of lightweight of the jet.
One of the immediate issues with the reconstruction project is the initial $132,784 US Dollars price tag of monument construction, which was disbursed in two installments as stipulated by the contract, and an additional $89,369 US Dollars for what was described as finishing work.
This puts the total cost of the construction at a whopping $222,153 US Dollars and, it is unclear if there was a separate contract for the additional funds or if authorization was sought and obtained from the National Tender Board or the Ministry of Housing and Public Works.
Two construction experts we consulted for this report were less generous in their valuation and estimated 100,000 to 120,000 with a 20% expected profit for the contracting company. To make his point, besides the cost of concrete per cubic meter, labor and the technical minutia of the project stated that a standard two-story five bedroom and three bathrooms mini-mansion complete with fence, service quarters, and move-in ready costs about 120,000 US dollars to build.
According to contract documents signed by Mr. Mohamed Ali Bile, the Director-General of the Presidency, who has been involved in many government-led construction projects, the contract for the reconstruction of the memorial was directly awarded to Zak Construction in a no-bid contract where Mr. Bile sought approval from the National Tender Board retroactively.
This is not the first no-bid contract that the Presidency, and especially Mr. Bile, has awarded outside of the National Tender Board’s process and sought approval after the contract has been awarded. There is no evidence of other construction projects implemented by Zak Construction.
Awarding of no-bid contracts by the President’s Office is contrary to the pledge that President Bihi has repeatedly made regarding the fairness and transparency of the national procurement system. In his address to the join session of the Parliament, he said, “I hereby declare that any government agency that does not comply with this decision will be subject to appropriate action”.
We reached out to Mr. Abdirazak Mohamoud Muhumed (Afyare), the owner of Zak Construction, to ask him to justify the $222,153 US Dollar price tag of the monument and how his company, with seemingly no track record of any major construction projects, was selected by the Presidency. Unhappy with the line of inquiry, Mr. Muhumed claimed that his private business is off-limits and has referred all questions about the monument construction to the government and the Presidency with a bit of advice to change the name of the outlet to Somaliland Wikileaks and threatened legal action if we mentioned him of his company.
In addition, we have reached out to the Presidency and the Director-General, Mr. Mohamed Ali Bile, about the contract, its inflated cost, and why he has repeatedly circumvented National Tender Board processes and awarded no-bid contracts frequently. We have also asked about his view of the public criticism of the design and the fact that currently; the monument lacks the historical context of what the instrument of death used by the Dictatorial regime of Mohamed Siad Barre to destroy Hargeisa and massacre the inhabitants of Hargeisa in 1988, stands for. He did not respond to our questions.