The Ministry of Agriculture has refuted reports in the Monday issue of Kaieteur News regarding the construction of a sluice door at Stryken Hovel, West Bank of Demerara, saying that the report did not paint a true representation of the facts.
Last week, during an opening of bids for the contract by the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board, it was disclosed that an engineer’s estimate put the project at $5,214,400.
Responding to concerns raised over that estimate, the newspaper had carried a report on Monday questioning the project.
According to the Ministry, the $5.2M estimate is for work on the entire sluice including two doors, not one as was reported in Kaieteur News.
However, at the opening of the bids on February 22, the Tender Board had listed as description for the project, “construction of sluice door” at Stryken Hovel, East Bank Essequibo-an incorrect address.
Further, a visit to the site found that it was a two-door sluice and that one was in good condition.
Kaieteur News was taken to the sluice where it was seen that the cables and other parts were in working condition.
According to the Ministry, the scope of works and estimated cost which serve as guide for the project include, the installation of two new sluice doors, the installation of stop logs, “de-watering the pits of both sluice gates”, removal of existing sluice doors and the installation of new doors along with the servicing and repairs of the lifting mechanism, formed part of the project.
Other associated works including wire ropes, pulleys, gate guides, guiding strips and the installation of various new components, a contingency sum for unforeseen works, cost for performance bond and cost for insurances as contained in the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board (NPTAB) standard bidding document formed part of the total cost, according to the Ministry.
“These are cost elements that the Kaieteur News omitted in its story. If we were to extract the estimated cost to build a single new sluice door of specification given without the necessary temporary work and associated civil works, performance bond, insurances, cost for unforeseen works which can only be executed if directed by the engineer, repairs to lifting mechanism and replacement of various new components, the estimated cost for the replacement of one of the two sluice doors would in fact be $1.25M which will not see a fully operational structure,” the Ministry pointed out.
When the bids were declared there was no mention of the additional works.
Kaieteur News made contact with lumber dealers yesterday and based on the specifications of the doors, said that wooden material to construct them would not be beyond $650,000.
The ministry said “It must be pointed out that several of the bidders quoted prices that were above the engineer’s estimate which serve as a guide intended to generate a competitive and transparent process. In addition, no remedial works were done by the NDIA but rather by the Regional Democratic Council (RDC) over the last few years.”
But other engineers told Kaieteur News that this is nonsense. The government should never use outside bids to justify an engineer’s estimate which is an in-house guide.
The contractors are bidding to make a profit, one engineer said.
“It would seem that the article is the latest attempt by the Kaieteur News to berate developmental projects by the government,” the Ministry said.
Publisher of Kaieteur News, Glenn Lall, said, however, that the newspaper is interested in ensuring that taxpayers get the best value for their money. It is for this reason that the newspaper is challenging what seems to be highly inflated estimates.
The damaged sluice, which was reportedly built in 2002, was constructed by a contractor, George Sarjoo.
The sluice, according to individuals close to the project, was a disaster waiting to happen as it was never built to the correct width and as such, over time, the sides of the door quickly wore out due to friction and have now reached to the point where it slips out from the grooves meant to hold it in place.
The sluice door was reportedly never tarred properly despite at least three sets of recent remedial works.
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