DIPCON, BK International and COURTNEY BENN Contracting Services are the three successful bidders for the Hope Canal Project.
During the weekly Cabinet press briefings, Head of the Presidential Secretariat, Dr. Roger Luncheon, announced that Cabinet had given its “No Objection” to three contracts for the Hope Canal.
Arguably, the projects of greater technical involvement are the ones to be undertaken by BK International Inc and Courtney Benn Contracting Services Ltd – namely the Conservancy Head Regulator and the High Level Weir Outfall at the seaward end of the proposed canal respectively.
DIPCON Engineering Services Ltd successfully bid to undertake the construction of the bridge where the East Coast Public Road will be cut by the canal on its way out to sea. DIPCON bid the sum of $349.6 million which was $31M less than the $381.4 million Engineer’s Estimate.
The Conservancy Head Regulator project will see BK International Inc constructing a head regulator with three gates of five-meter spans at the East Demerara Water Conservancy where the waters will be released into the canal.
Over the structure there will also be a 5.1m wide bridge. The works include undertaking excavation for the foundation, supplying and driving timber sheet piles, steel sheet piles, toe and tanking piles.
They will also need to erect form work, place reinforcement and pour concrete for the structure and its supporting members.
The supply and placement of geotextile fabric as well as gabion mattress for channel protection, the erection and installation of the timber sluice gates and the supply and installation of lifting mechanisms are also part of the works that need to be undertaken by BK International for this project.
The contract for this project will be signed to the tune of $420.8 million some $26M less than the Government Engineer’s Estimate of $447 million.
The Conservancy is expected to drain into the Hope Canal which will carry the waters along its 10.3km length to the Atlantic Ocean where they will drain through a High Level Sluice Outfall Structure.
The construction of this High Level sluice will be undertaken by Courtney Benn Contracting Services Ltd (CBCSL) for the sum of $605.4 million, some $33M less than the Government engineer’s estimate of $638.4 million.
The works will include the construction of an eight door sluice, each door spanning five meters and made of stainless steel.
The works follow a similar pattern as those outlined for the Conservancy Head Regulator on a larger scale since the Outfall Sluice structure will be more than twice as large as the Head Regulator.
CBCSL will also be required to construct a generator building and control office which will house the control systems and generators required to operate the sluice mechanisms.
In a departure from the usual design and operation of sluices across Guyana, the Outfall Sluice will have stainless steel sluice gates instead of timber gates.
The lifting mechanisms of these gates are motorized winches will be operated via the control panels in the control/generator room while the generators make the operation of the gates independent of the power grid in times of need.
At this point, the interjection of retired Engineer Charles Sohan should be noted. Mr. Sohan raised the question of why the design incorporates stainless steel doors which are much heavier to lift and much harder to replace than timber sluice doors.
He also pointed out that if the greater lifting capacity necessitates the inclusion of the motorized winches what happens when those winches are subject to the erosive influence of the sea water and ‘salt-air’?
The issue of time is also cause for concern since according to the Minister of Agriculture, Robert Persaud, in a statement earlier this year the project will be completed within 18 months.
It is unclear if that timeline is still in effect but at the time of the briefing in February, Persaud was adamant that his Ministry’s part in the process was ‘not behind schedule’.
The Ministry’s role that he was referring to was the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority’s (NDIA) undertaking of the excavation of the 10.3km earthen channel that would, according to Persaud, save the country almost $1B on this project since it was not being contracted out.
The Hope Canal will cost tax payers $3B and is one of the largest projects ever funded entirely by Guyana.
Over the months the debates as to the feasibility and necessity for the project have been endless and have seen retired engineers and construction specialists as well as citizens of all walks of life facing off against the administration in an attempt to ensure that the taxpayer dollars are not wasted.
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