Jan 20, 2014 Letters
In a KN Article of Jan 18, it was reported that GPL’s Vreed-en-Hoop Power Plant is about 20% completed with an initial projected cost overrun of about US$8M.
These unrealistic projections are just the ‘tip off the iceberg’ as this project should have been completed by April’14 by a Contractor who has had a history for poor contract execution. The indications are that this project will not be completed by July’14 as claimed by the Chief Executive Officer, Bharrat Dindyal but more likely Dec’14 or beyond with a very large cost overrun. Therefore, Parliamentarians should initiate an inquiry into this project before it becomes another Hope Canal/Amaila Falls fiasco, projects with large cost and time overruns and incomplete as of today.
It is inconceivable that a crab infested foreshore (swampy) site was selected for the construction of a power plant requiring a solid foundation with minimal differential settlement when there were sites in the vicinity with better soil characteristics and therefore requiring less costly foundation work.
Any inquiry should look into the experience and competence of the Engineer who designed this project and the method of selection for his assignment. The evidence suggests that adequate soil investigation for the foundation of the power plant was not carried out as is evidenced by the extraordinary number and length of piles required and the huge volume of unsuitable material which has to be removed and replaced with sand. If a proper site investigation(including test piles) of the soil characteristic for the power plant foundation was carried out it in the first instance, it would have been evident that the soil was incapable of bearing the weight of the structure (power plant and accessories) without expensive foundation work. The cost for these foundation works should have been estimated upfront by the Engineer for consideration by GPL before the start of any construction to enable alternatives to be considered to enable construction costs to be contained within budget. Missing out important soil characteristics for design purposes under the pretext of unforeseen circumstances is no excuse for incompetence and slip-shod work.
Guyana has had no experience with the use of geo-textile material to intensify soil consolidation and its use at the Vreed-en-Hoop site is another indication that GPL continues to waste tax payers money on questionable systems for construction instead of using materials and methods of construction that have stood the test of time.
Prime Minister Hinds should step back and acknowledge that this project is way behind schedule with a large cost overrun pending instead of misleading his fellow countrymen that the project is making good progress stage by stage. He ought to level with GPL customers and let them know that he will not allow their electricity rates to go up because of incompetence and sloppy performance by those who allow GPL projects to be executed poorly and with costly overruns.
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