Mar 07, 2012 News
…contract was for design and construction
The government is racing to complete the Amaila Falls hydro project road.
In the process, it has had to extend the deadline once again, the fourth adjustment since it awarded a US$15.4 million contract to Synergy Holdings headed by Makeshwar ‘Fip’ Motilall back in March 2010. The new deadline is June, pushed back from April when Fip Motilall had guaranteed to complete the contract.
The contract was awarded on condition that Motilall would design and construct the road. And the contractor, who was said to have never built a road, but who sought to justify his being granted the contract, agreed to execute the project.
The terms of the contract stipulated that he would complete the works within 18 months of being awarded the contract. However, there were delays in the start up, first to allow Motilall to procure the equipment and then to secure a Performance Bond.
The government announced the award of the contract to Motilall on March 26, 2010. Synergy Holdings was given the first notice to proceed on October 5, 2010 for some sections of the road, while the green light for the other section through virgin rainforest was given on January 11, last year.
Those bidding for the contracts were asked to provide their experience in similar large scale projects together with references and credentials, and detail the equipment he owns and would require to carry out the project.
Synergy Holdings came under the radar over its experience in building roads and its ability to carry out the project. The company’s contract is for the upgrade of approximately 85 kilometers of existing roadway and the design and construction of approximately 110 kilometers of new road.
On Monday, word came that all was not right with the project from the inception. Motilall was scheduled to complete the design. He did not complete the design for what is known on the project as Section 2B—a section that lies within the Toolsie Persaud Holdings and which was part of an existing roadway.
This section led to the waterfront area crucial for the transport of heavy equipment to the project site. Further, Motilall also failed to design the latter sections of the road—Section 6 and Section 7—the final stages of the road and which lie within virgin forest. These two sections form part of the 110 kilometer of new roads. The government must now design these sections.
These situations need not have developed when sections of the media, particularly Kaieteur News, pointed to holes in Motilall’s qualification as a road contractor.
Finance Minister, Dr. Ashni Singh, and Head of the Privatisation Unit, Winston Brassington, met with the press to justify the award of the contract. Dr. Singh later said that he was at the press conference to detail the procedure for the award of the tender.
However, Brassington was insistent that Motilall was eminently qualified to execute the project. He even wagered that the contractor would complete the project on time and in excellent fashion. Needless to say, had Brassington put his money where his mouth is, he would have been without both mouth and money, one reporter said.
At present, Toolsie Persaud has been awarded a contract for two lots of the road project and the others have gone back to tender. The Works Ministry is negotiating for Lots 3 and 4. It is also seeking tenders for the unfinished sections, having rejected the initial tenders on the ground that they were too high.
Meanwhile, Motilall has collected some US$8 million of the contract. The government has however seized his equipment and has fined him US$120,000 as liquidated damages for each day he failed to procure the Performance Bond.
The roads are a critical component of the Amaila Falls Hydro Electric Project which government is hoping to build.
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