With reference to the article headlined ‘Deadline extended for new Demerara Bridge prequalification’ published by the Stabroek News on October 7, 2017, the project manager, Rawlston Adams, was quoted as saying: “We have been asked by a lot of the bidders to extend the closing date for prequal [prequalification] and we have extended the date to the 21st of November, moving it from October 17th 2017.”
This is extremely worrying and alarming, since details are required on several questions that such a comment raises. Who are these bidders making the request for an extension? How was this request made, in writing or orally? To whom was this request made? What were the circumstances cited for such an extension?
One can conclude that in the absence of a meeting – (a meeting which we do not know occurred), where there could have been a common request by prospective bidders for an extension, clarification or site visit – this announcement is highly irregular and smacks of some incestuous behaviour between some particular interested party/ parties and this procuring entity. Does this have anything to do with the publicly announced interest expressed by the British construction firm, Royal BAM Group?
It is highly unusual that after a procuring entity would have carefully considered what is required to facilitate a process, that changes are made without serious and substantial explanations on what necessitated such changes. A mere call for an extension is insufficient. This raises even more questions. Who fixed the timelines, which saw among other deadlines, October 17, 2017 being the final date for submission of bids for prequalification? Did the setting of this deadline benefit from careful in-house planning? Did this include advice from technical experts? Or is this another manifestation of Minister David Patterson’s incompetence? What were the drivers for an October 17, 2017 deadline, which no longer exist? Who made the decision on the October 17, 2017 deadline? Was it the same person who decided to grant the five-week extension?
There is need for clarity on the decision-making. Careful attention will be paid to this unfolding fiasco, since as I have indicated earlier, at different fora, there seems to be a preferred, already selected firm for this project, and the other prospective bidders are being engaged for ‘widow dressing’ purposes, to give the impression of that rules-based processes are being followed.
This project, in terms of cost, is one of the largest undertakings in public infrastructure in Guyana’s history and it cannot be subject to technically unsound and whimsical decision-making; inept management; infantile understanding of basic element of major infrastructural development projects; breaches and tampering of the public procurement processes to guarantee a desired outcome; and subsequent botched implementation.
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