Contractor, BK International, will have to construct a new water well for Mon Repos, following news that one completed five years ago had technical issues and was not commissioned, despite almost all the monies being released.
According to Dr. Richard Van West Charles, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Guyana Water Inc. (GWI), a meeting was held with principals of BK International on Wednesday and a number of decisions were taken.
It was decided that the contractor will have to build a new well but at its own cost. This is because for the faulty well, BK had already collected almost $34M (over 80 percent) of the $41.6M that had been earmarked for the project.
According to the GWI boss, it has not yet been decided whether the new well will be constructed right in the compound at the Guyana Livestock Development Authority (GLDA), at Mon Repos, or outside.
Instead of serving only GLDA and its facilities, it is the plan that the new well will be providing service to Mon Repos and its environs.
With regards to the old well, the CEO explained, GWI believed that it could still be used to boost the water supply to the area, following attempts to connect it to the distribution system.
The issue has been a vexing one for GLDA, a key agency of the Ministry of Agriculture.
The new Board of Director, which was installed late 2015- had been addressing the non-functioning well since early last year.
Between February 2016 and this month, GLDA’s CEO, Richard Cumberbatch, had written GWI and Finance Secretary, Dr. Hector Butts, to have the matter resolved.
However, it was not until the matter was made public that any significant movements were made.
GLDA had explained in its letter to Dr. Butts that in 2011, GLDA received approval in its
capital budget for a well, to cost $41.6M. The well was supposed to provide water to the entity’s Hatchery Unit and the Livestock Farm and pastures.
GLDA disclosed that it decided to vest the monies in GWI to design and supervise the construction of the well.
However GLDA stated it had issues with the contract itself.
”A perusal of the contract found some issues with the initial commencement of the project. Additionally, there has been some degree of vagueness in the contract document pertaining mainly to the works to be completed, contract date, contract sum when compared with the engineer’s estimate and the drawing designs. Further, numerous designs have been occasioned due to stoppages of work by the contractor and lengthy delays to mobilize.”
Cumberbatch revealed that that while BK had completed 75 percent of the work, the well had major structural flaws and discrepancies, all of which had financial implications for GLDA, if it is made operational.
GLDA complained that despite raising the matter since 2016 with GWI, it has not yet received a response.
This month again, on June 8, GLDA wrote GWI. This time the letter was addressed to CEO, Dr. Richard Van West Charles.
Cumberbatch stressed that letters were sent last year February and again last February and that GLDA and its board want the matter to be resolved urgently.
GLDA copied the letters to Agriculture Minister, Noel Holder; Dr. Butts; Minister of Communities, Ronald Bulkan; and Junior Ministers, Valerie Patterson and Dawn Hastings-Williams.
GLDA has been demanding either a new well or GWI return the monies it was given to oversee the well project.
The issue has highlighted some of the problems facing the administration with regards to state contracts.
While on one hand, there have been attempts to tighten up on the procurement process, overtime state audits have pointed to weak supervision and even corruption in the tendering and evaluation stages.
State engineers have been singled out for their weak supervision despite being charged with ensuring the country receives value for its money.
Consecutive administrations have been heavily criticized for not coming down hard on contractors who have failed on jobs, in terms of non-delivery or poor quality.
There is little evidence that contractors are being blacklisted for poor work and even less evidence of government’s success in collecting penalties for those contracts.
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