Apr 09, 2016 News
Government said, yesterday, that it has not yet finalized a settlement with BK International Inc., to see
the company walking away from managing the Haags Bosch Landfill project.
A statement from the Ministry of Legal Affairs/Attorney-General Chambers insisted that negotiations are still ongoing with the final approval to be made by the Cabinet.
According to the statement, talks had started between the Government and BK and the lawyers on the way forward.
“In the course of talks permission was sought from Cabinet and granted to negotiate a settlement with a view to ending the contractual relationship with Brian Tiwarie (owner of BK), and having his company exit the dumpsite. Negotiations have commenced and are not yet complete. Moreover, any proposed settlement would have to return to Cabinet for approval.”
The statement rejected Kaieteur News’ report yesterday that a $1B settlement with BK had been finalized.
The Legal Affairs Ministry and AG Chambers also took issue with the satirical “Dem boys seh…” column which spoke of the settlement.
According to the Ministry, the Haags Bosch project was funded by the Inter-American Development Bank in which a contract with BK was entered on November 20, 2009, with the former PPP/C government.
“Myriad problems developed with the contract over the years and the former government belatedly terminated the contract on February 27, 2015. Consequently Brian Tiwarie filed an action in the High Court challenging the termination.”
The statement explained that the Attorney General’s Chambers represented the Ministry of Local Government (now Ministry of Communities) in the court action.
On November 26, 2015, the then Chief Justice (Ag) Justice Ian Chang S.C., CCH, ruled that the termination
of the contract by the former government was not correctly done.
“The effect of this decision was that the contract continued and Mr. Tiwarie could remain on site. On December 30, 2015 the Attorney General caused a Notice of Appeal and an Application for a Stay to be filed against the said decision.”
However, while the matter was being appealed, talks were entered into with the Minister of Communities, Ronald Bulkan and his team, Tiwarie and his team and Attorney-General Basil Williams and his team.
This was done to resolve the matter since the work on the Haags Bosch Dumpsite was at a standstill. The stench and smoke from fires on the dumpsite were affecting the surrounding communities, the statement said.
“In light of the foregoing it is evident that the said articles are erroneous, malicious and vexatious and designed to sully the good name of the Attorney-General, his officers, the Ministry of Legal Affairs and the Government of Guyana. We therefore demand an apology from the publishers of the Kaieteur News.”
BK, reportedly, was claiming US$10M.
Government is currently assessing tenders for a new company to manage the facility, the country’s biggest dumpsite. A project to convert solid waste at the Haags Bosch dumpsite into electricity is also in the making.
The facility was opened in early 2011, replacing the dumpsite in Le Repentir Cemetery in the city which had to be closed because of health and capacity reasons.
BK had been battling consecutive governments over the management of the Haags Bosch facility, an area of 100 acres that is located behind Eccles, East Bank Demerara. Under the arrangements, BK was supposed to be paid for every tonne of waste processed.
The matter came to a head last year when the administration of the People’s Progressive Party/Civic on February 27, 2015, terminated BK’s contract for the construction and operations of the landfill. The government said that the company missed deadlines and committed other breaches.
On March 13, 2015, BK through his lawyer, Davindra Kissoon, filed a lawsuit asking Chief Justice (Ag) Ian Chang, to overturn the decision of the Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development to terminate the contract.
Tiwarie, in court documents, claimed that he was owed hundreds of millions of dollars for the construction and for the daily management of the Eccles site. The management period ends in 2019.
The lawsuit named the former Permanent Secretary, Collin Croal, former Minister Norman Whittaker and the Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development. Under the new administration that Ministry has been renamed the Ministry of Communities.
In his claims to the court to overturn the termination, Tiwarie said that the decision was arbitrary and illegal and breached his expectation as contained in the contract.
He asked for other relief and court costs.
He had accused Croal and Whittaker of causing delays and changing designs for the landfill.
The contractor also blamed the Ministry for handing his company designs that were poor. He was forced to process double the waste by the Ministry, contrary to his contract.
Around 2007, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) loaned Guyana US$18.07M for the Haags Bosch project with BK and Puran Bros winning the tender in 2009.
While it was agreed that the construction would be for US$9.7M, this was reduced to US$7.7M because of cash problems facing the Ministry.
Tiwarie said that the agreement with his company was with the Ministry, and not IDB.
Construction began in 2010 at the site which was officially opened on February 1, 2011.
Tiwarie said that in 2012, the supervision of the landfill operations was placed under the Ministry of Public Works with the engineer Walter Willis as Project Manager.
However, BK and Willis clashed and Willis was removed from the project shortly after.
Tiwarie in his court documents said that his company constructed cells, roadways, administrative offices, canteen, workshop and a scale. In the process he hired 50 persons and managed to process 140,000 tonnes of waste annually.
However, the Ministry started delaying payments to BK despite invoices being submitted and letters of demand being written.
As at July 23, 2013, the Ministry owed BK some US$324,677, the monies being for work done since 2012. This meant there were no payments for one and half years.
Aside from this, BK had filed claims against the Ministry for breaches in the contract for US$8M. The company settled for US$1.7M.
BK said that it did not even pay its Performance Security to the insurance company for the contract because of the delays by the Ministry.
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