By Kiana Wilburg
A Jamaican engineering company will be the lead associate in a Joint Partnership
Agreement with BK International for the improvement of the West Coast Demerara Road. The project’s cost is $9.2B
Surrey Paving and Aggregate (SPA) Ltd. which enjoys a high quality reputation with several Caricom States and with the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) was announced as the regional partner with the local firm yesterday during a press briefing.
Minister of Public Works, Robeson Benn, explained to media operatives that the government and CDB on February 25, 2013 signed a Loan Agreement and a Grant Agreement totaling US$34,200,000 and US $200,000 respectively.
The funds from those agreements will go towards the Fourth Road Project – West Coast Demerara Road Improvement, which has an estimated total financing cost of US$46,789,000. The total base cost of this project is estimated at US$36,301,000.
The objective of the project is to increase efficiency and safety of road transportation along the West Coast Demerara Road from Vreed-en-Hoop to Hydronie, East Bank Essequibo.
In order to achieve this, Benn said that the project has combined six components that are to be implemented. These include Road Works, Road Safety Awareness, Capacity Building, Road Works Supervision, Monitoring and Evaluation and Project Management.
With regard to Road Works, this component of the project was awarded to the joint venture partners for a contract sum of US$44,323,839.87. The duration of the Road Works contract is 36 months starting
officially in January 2015.
SPA currently has over 200 staff members operating throughout the Caribbean. The team comprises regional and international experienced professionals, contributing their skills set into all aspects of SPA. These professionals are said to be trained in engineering, quantity surveying, accounts, land surveying, plant management, quality assurance, fleet management, operators, etc.
It has a history of working with the construction of highways, airports and roads in various Caribbean territories. This is the first time that the company has tendered and won a project in Guyana.
The Road Works Component entails the improvement of approximately 30.7 km of the West Coast Demerara Road from Vreed-en-Hoop to Hydronie. Hydronie is just about one mile east of Parika.
This aspect of the project will include pavement rehabilitation, road widening for the separation of pedestrians and cyclists from motorized traffic, installation of traffic signs and road markings, provision of additional highway lights, replacement of the Groenveldt Bridge, extension and repairs to culverts and relocation of the utilities.
The pavement rehabilitation will see base and surface course repairs to sections of the existing roadway. Additionally, crack sealing and geotextile fabric will be installed at other sections.
Managing director of SPA, Leslie Chung, said that the company is one of the leading engineering firms of Jamaica and carries a guarantee of quality assurance. He said that he is optimistic about the success of the joint venture.
Chung said that the Project Manager, Shane Garvey, will be responsible for the contract in Guyana and expressed gratitude to the CDB for extending the opportunity. He promised that it will be finished in a timely manner and would be of the highest quality.
Brian Tiwarie, Chief Executive Officer of BK International, said that he is grateful for the opportunity and assured that while joint ventures have a reputation of not working, he guaranteed that his agreement with the Jamaican firm will go through.
To commemorate the occasion, Chung presented Benn with a crystal memento which he said is a symbol of his appreciation for the project and the relationship formed.
The Chief Works Officer, Geoffrey Vaughn, told the media that while it is procedure for the project to commence 14 days after signing of the document, full mobilization will be seen in the January period.
With regard to due diligence being conducted on the regional engineering company, Vaughn said that SPA was required to provide a number of documents. There were checks with Jamaica to ensure its authenticity.
SPA Project Director, Michael G. Archer also sought to emphasize that the company has extensive experience in the engineering field and is widely known even to the CDB for its high standards.
Chung said that during the tendering process, its officials were here earlier this year and had done its own background checks on Guyana to ensure it had a good working understanding of the political and economical environment it is working with.
The political opposition had threatened that any major investment project that the government signs onto during the six month suspension of Parliament would be deemed as inherently tarnished and would be subject to a possible halting if need be.
However, Benn who facilitated the signing of the CDB-funded project said that he cannot dwell on the threats of the opposition with respect to the projects. He said that Guyana’s national development agenda has to go forward uninterrupted. If it does get interrupted, it will impair the livelihood of people and development of the country.
The Public Works Minister said that projects signed on to are national development imperatives.
“People should examine the matter dispassionately, reasonably at that, and step back from some of the rhetoric that is being thrown out there on the airwaves and in cyberspace. These are imperatives and they have to go forward unhindered. We are prepared to lay all these contracts as we have done before in the Parliament when it reconvenes for examination and we hope that if anything changes, whoever takes up the mantle of leading the country will see that it was necessary to continue as we are doing now.”
The CDB project was included in 2014 budget and approved.
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