The US$46.8 M West Coast Demerara Project is currently behind schedule while a representative of a foreign company involved in a component of the project has made several clarifications amidst rising scrutiny.
Project Coordinator of the Ministry of Public Infrastructure, Kester Hinds, had stated earlier this week that the multimillion-dollar project, which kicked off on January 2015, is behind schedule.
Hinds stated that thus far, 50 percent of the construction period has already elapsed, with some 30 percent of the works completed to date. The deadline for the project is January 2018.
Hinds denied that the works were “way back”. However, due to the nature of construction in general, works can be expedited by adding more equipment, human resources and hours to bring the works back to the required timeline.
The inclement weather in the past was cited as one of the factors that contributed to the delay, Hinds said. He added also, that there was a delay by one of the contractors in mobilising some of their resources on time. There were also some issues also, regarding the removal of utilities from the areas under rehabilitation however, these did not contribute much to the delays, Hinds stated.
On West Coast Demerara yesterday, works were seen being carried out in several villages including Vreed-en-Hoop, Anna Catherina, De Willem and Uitvlugt. While some roads appeared to have been already rehabilitated, some areas were still being prepared.
It appeared as if the works were being conducted in random villages as oppose to a systematic manner. Equipment was seen being mobilised in the vicinity of Stewartville and Uitvlugt along with the installations of barricades in other villages. The surveying crew was also seen in action.
Since the commencement of the project in 2015, much scrutiny had followed particularly about a foreign company’s involvement in the undertaking.
The Jamaica Construction Firm, Surrey Paving and Aggregate Company (SPA) Limited, for the first time, had tendered and won a contract for a project in Guyana. The company subsequently formed a joint venture with local construction company, BK International.
BK International on the other hand, was not qualified to carry out the works by itself thus, the joint venture enabled the company to take part in the project. Together, both companies qualified for a specific component of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) funded Project.
This component entails the improvement of approximately 30.7 km of the West Coast Demerara Road from Vreed-en-Hoop to Hydronie.
This aspect of the project includes 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, extension and repairs to culverts and relocation of the utilities.
Questions were being asked about Surrey’s involvement in the project since engineers and other personnel attached to BK International were the only operatives observed being actively involved in the project.
Assertions were even made that the Jamaican Company was handing down the bulk of the work to BK while they resorted to “standby phase”.
Surrey’s Projects Director, Michael Archer, when contacted on Tuesday, stated that the Company is actively involved in the project since they are the lead partner in the contract based on the agreement with the Government.
He added that most of the Senior Technical Management Staff is from SPA, along with the Project Manager, the Commercial Manager and Materials Manager among others.
Archer also stated that a “number” of supervisors in Guyana are also from the SPA and a paving crew is expected to arrive shortly in Guyana to carry out the final paving works.
Asked if the company has any equipment in Guyana operating, he replied that some were brought in while some were acquired jointly with BK. He continued that BK International provided much of the equipment and labour to carry out the preliminary works.
Quizzed on how much of the money the joint venture has received to date, Archer stated that percentage that was paid already would be equivalent to the percentage of works completed to date.
Former Minister of Public Works, Robeson Benn, under whose tenure the project received the green light, had explained in 2014, that the Government of the Guyana and Caribbean Development Bank on February 25, 2013, signed a Loan Agreement and a Grant Agreement totalling US$34,2M and US$200,000 respectively.
The funds from those agreements he had stated, would go towards the project. It is still unclear how much money Guyana has injected into the project.
Meanwhile, persons who traverse the East Bank Demerara roadways who have long been inconvenienced by the construction works being carried out to transform the roadway to accommodate efficient and effective flow of traffic, will soon be able to breathe a sigh of relief since the contractors and the Ministry of Public Infrastructure are pulling out all the stops to complete the project by the end of next month.
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