Nov 26, 2017 News
The Government of China seems to have a keen interest in the construction of the new bridge across the Demerara River which, according to a feasibility study conducted by LIEVENSE CSO, will cost about US$170M ($34B). This project is the largest infrastructural project on the cards for Guyana in 2018.
Several companies with ties to the Government of China are eyeing the project.
On Tuesday last, the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board (NPTAB) opened 11 tenders from companies seeking prequalification for the construction of the bridge. Those 11 tenders represented submissions for 16 companies as some of the tenders came from companies participating in joint ventures. Of the 16 companies, nine are Chinese.
These companies are not owned just by Chinese nationals but by the Government of China. While in some cases the Government of China has majority shares, other companies are wholly owned by the government.
But at first glance it would not seem so straightforward. China has been quite tactful in masking the ownership of these companies. Research of the companies showed many to be privately owned. They were listed as owned and operated by another company. However, when the trail was followed, the company listed as owning the other company is indeed owned by the Government of China. It is almost like a web with all of the companies being connected in one way or the other.
Two of the companies joined forces with other foreign companies.
China State Construction Engineering Corporation Limited has entered the race by itself. That company is wholly owned by the Government of China.
CITIC Construction Company limited is the construction and engineering subsidiary of the CITIC Group (formerly the China International Trust and Investment Corporation), a Chinese state owned conglomerate. CITIC Construction Company has collaborated with China Railway 17 Bureau Group Company Limited for the purpose of building the bridge. China Railway 17 Bureau Group Company Limited is also owned by the Government of China.
Then there is China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation which is listed as owned not by the state of China but by another company called China Railway Construction Corporation. That company however is 61.3 percent owned by the Government of China.
China Communication Construction Company Limited has also applied for prequalification for the project. The Government of China owns 63.8 percent in this company. Interestingly, this company is the parent of China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) which is currently working on the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) expansion project.
But the list does not end there. There is yet another company China Railway Major Bridge Engineering Group Company Limited which is collaborating with AVIC International Projecting Company in pursuit of the project contract. Both companies have ties to the Government of China.
SINO Hydro Corporation Limited of China, also owned by the Government of China, has collaborated with Puentes y Infraestructuras of Spain. This gives China yet another chance of being in the money.
Another China owned company has done the same thing. China TIESIJU Civil Engineering Group Co. Ltd (State) has collaborated with OAS Engenharia E Construcao SA of Brazil.
These companies have applied to be prequalified to receive the contract to design, finance and build the new Demerara River Crossing.
The other companies competing for the job are not competing against mere companies but a country, a country that has been lending a helping hand to the government, a country that is gearing to be the next superpower, China.
The Ministry of Public Infrastructure has said that from the list three will be shortlisted and requested to submit designs and offer a fixed price lump sum bid for the bridge and approach roads.
In the advertisement for prequalification, the Ministry said, “The Government of Guyana through the Ministry of Public Infrastructure plans to construct a new bridge across the Demerara River. The selected location is approximately two kilometers north of the existing floating bridge, and the new bridge will span from Houston on the eastern bank of the Demerara River to Versailles on the western bank of the Demerara River.
The new bridge will be an essential part of the road network and will also have a significant impact on marine traffic passing under the bridge.”
“The project comprises the construction of an approximately 1500m-long fixed bridge with a movable span and two approach roads of a total length of 600m. It is envisaged that the project will commence in 2018 and will be delivered in 2020.
The employer has conducted a feasibility study including initial surveys, and will provide in the tender the complete basic design as a reference design,” it adds.
Criticisms have been made about Chinese firms benefiting from millions of U.S. dollars in state contracts.
Minister of Public Infrastructure, David Patterson has been quoted in the media saying it is not where the company is from, noting that the selection would be based on the company’s qualification, experience and ability to produce.
That was Patterson’s comment despite the fact that many of Chinese companies that did work in Guyana were smeared in controversy.
There have been allegations that CHEC is carrying out substandard work at the airport. The complaints have been similar around the world with many noting the main aim of China as highlighted in its modus operandi.
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