Nov 22, 2017 News
Chinese contractors are benefitting from some of the largest State projects in Guyana.
More than US$320M ($64B) in contracts has been nudged towards Chinese construction and other firms within the last six years, including the US$50-plus Marriott Hotel project, in Kingston.
Over the weekend, the rehabilitation of Sheriff Street/Mandela Avenue was awarded to SinoHydro Corporation Limited for US$31M. However, it has not been announced officially. Already, the Chinese company which has been bidding for electricity-related projects, including running of transmission lines, was earlier this year awarded almost $4B (US$20M) in contracts to build three new water treatment plants at Uitvlugt, West Coast Demerara; Diamond, East Bank Demerara; and Sheet Anchor, East Canje, Berbice.
It is unclear how advanced these projects are.
With regards to the Sheriff Street/Mandela Avenue expansion, the project which was in the works for a number of years was almost shelved after the Coalition government entered office and found hundreds of millions of dollars sitting not doing much except attracting interest charges.
The administration says it has applied to the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) for half of the US$60M to be placed to housing projects. The rest will go to a modified Sheriff Street/Mandela Avenue expansion.
Several local companies made bids in the six or so lots that were advertised. However, SinoHydro Corporation made a bid for the entire project and was given the nod.
On Friday, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Public Infrastructure, Kenneth Jordan, wrote bidders informing them that a contract has been awarded to SinoHydro to the tune of US$31 million.
On the East Coast Demerara, a 17km stretch from Better Hope to Belfield is being widened and upgraded. The contractor, China Railway First Group Company Limited, commenced works on August 29, 2017.
Last November, the government and the People’s Republic of China inked a US$45.5M concessional loan for the completion of the widening and improvement of the road between Better Hope and Belfield. Guyana has contributed $2.7B towards the project.
Also under the control of the Chinese is the expansion of the Cheddi Jagan International Airport. The runway is being lengthened and there was supposed to be a new terminal building. However, the project was badly behind and the contractor, China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC), was forced to renegotiate with the new administration in 2015. It had collected a significant portion of the monies.
There were design changes to the terminal building to allow for the project to meet its budget of US$150M, the second biggest infrastructural project for the country.
The Chinese firm, China National Machinery Import and Export Corporation (CMC), has since been granted yet another major project, for US$23M, to run medium voltage transmission lines and install smart meters.
There have been growing concerns by local contractors on State contracts.
While there have been concerns whether the local contractors have capacity, there is little evidence, critics say, that consecutive governments have any willingness to demand that contracts awarded to foreign companies include transfer of skills and partnerships.
The Marriott Hotel has especially been an example of very little local labour being applied.
At the airport, while there are local workers, the management is largely Chinese.
In recent months, with the advent of oil, there has been a clamor for the administration to introduce regulations to force foreign companies to employ locals in he management circles, as a matter of course, and for the mandatory transfer of skills.
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