US$300M bridge in China collapses months later
- same contractor to build Amaila Falls hydro-electric
A section of a US$300M bridge built by China Railway First Group in northern China, collapsed last month, killing three persons and injuring five, just nine months after being commissioned.
It is the same China Railway which signed a lucrative US$506M on Tuesday with project developers, Sithe Global, to build the Amaila Falls Hydro Electric Project, Guyana’s largest ever infrastructure.
The Amaila Falls project is likely to cost Guyana at least US$840M, and with the final bill likely to be even higher.
The dramatic collapse of the nearly 330-foot-long section of a ramp of the eight-lane Yangmingtan Bridge in the city of Harbin, China, saw parts of the bridge dropping 100 feet to the ground. Four trucks plummeted with it, resulting in three deaths and five injuries.
There were accusations of shoddy work and poor materials being used.
According to the New York Times, the August 24 incident sparked a storm of criticism from Chinese internet users, underscoring questions about the quality of construction in the country’s rapid expansion of its infrastructure.
The 9.6-mile bridge is one of three built over the Songhua River in that area in the past four years.
Media reports said that there were questions about the materials used during the construction and whether projects were properly engineered have been the subject of national debate ever since a high-speed train plowed into the back of a stopped train on the same track on July 23 last year in the eastern city of Wenzhou. The crash killed 40 people and injured 191.
According to the official Xinhua news agency, the Yangmingtan Bridge was the sixth major bridge in China to collapse since July 2011.
According to the New York Times report, many in China have attributed the recent spate of bridge collapses to corruption. Online reaction to the latest collapse was scathing.
“Corrupt officials who do not die just continue to cause disaster after disaster,” said one post on Friday on Sina Weibo, a Chinese micro-blogging service similar to Twitter.
Chinese news media reported that the bridge had cost 1.88 billion renminbi, or almost US$300 million.
According to a statement issued by the Government Information Agency (GINA), the Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) agreement for the construction of the Amaila Falls Hydro project and Transmission Line was executed on Tuesday in Xian, China, by Sithe Global, the developer, and China Railway First Group (CRFG), the construction company.
There were no official indications before Tuesday that a government team had left for China for the signing.
The contract was signed by Bruce Wrobel, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Sithe Global, and Dr. Sun Yonggang, Chairman of China Railway First Group (CRFG).
Also in China for the signing were Chairman of the Guyana Power and Light, Winston Brassington; Office of the President Advisor, Steven Grin, along with representatives of the Province of Shaanxi, the China Development Bank, China Export and Credit Insurance Corporation, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), and other representatives of Sithe Global and China Rail.
In June, Sithe Global said that it was hoping to have financial closure on the project by March 2013.
The project has been marred by concerns over the high costs which started from US$600M and has risen to over US$800M without a stone being laid or a screw turned.
It was also hampered by the scandalous US$15.4M road project contract awarded under controversial circumstances to Makeshwar ‘Fip’ Motilall. The contract was terminated earlier this year because of the absence of a performance bond.
The Amaila Hydropower Project, (approximately 165MW capacity), to be located in western Guyana, in Region Eight, will include a new 270 km transmission line and new substations leading to Georgetown. Currently, nearly all electric generation in Guyana is provided through small units burning either diesel or heavy fuel oil. A significant portion of the country’s foreign exchange is spent on importing fossil fuel.