– Says engineer’s estimate “is no secret in this country”
By Abena Rockcliffe-Campbell
Peter Lewis, of Associated Construction Services, has admitted that he completed eight multi-dollar jobs for Region Six even before the Regional Tender Board awarded the contracts.
Lewis said this yesterday when he was contacted in the wake of a report by the Auditor General.
Kaieteur News had published that the Office of the Auditor General launched a special investigation into what seems to be a quite beneficial relationship between Region Six officials and a particular contractor.
While that investigation is ongoing, Auditor General Deodat Sharma made mention of it in his latest report covering an examination of the government’s spending in 2017.
Sharma said that an audit revealed eight instances in Region Six where the contract sum was the same as the engineer’s estimate. In addition, each item on the contractor’s bill of quantities was identical to that of the engineer’s bill of quantities.
Further, all eight of the contracts were awarded by the Regional Tender Board. Interestingly, four contracts were awarded at one sitting. Also, all eight contracts were awarded to the same contractor in 2017.
This newspaper later learnt that Lewis finished the work then submitted a quotation. One source said, Lewis’s quotation “became the engineer’s estimate and not the other way around.”
The source stressed that the legal procurement procedure has been violated and “this has been going on a long time now.”
The source claimed that procurement in Berbice is “crazy” and it is the only area where “social cohesion is practiced. Everybody becomes one when it comes to that, once they are benefitting.
This is the epitome of corruption. Mind you, this is the same man who donates buses to the Government.”
When the contractor was contacted he said, “Yes, I did some of the work but the thing is so foolish. What y’all doing now, y’all should have done yesterday. Those jobs (were) emergency.”
Lewis continued, “Another thing is that engineer’s estimates are no secret in this country. Everybody knows the engineer’s estimates. So what the Auditor General do is just foolishness.
The job was completed before it actually went to Tender Board because was emergency.”
While Lewis stressed that the works were emergency, Kaieteur News understands that this was not the case in all eight instances. A source said, “I know for sure that at least five of those jobs were not emergencies.”
Lewis had also stated, “I do not know why they gon say contractor collude with engineer. What they should have done is go and check and see if the bloody work was completed; if the government get value for money, that is what they should have done.”
The contractor continued, “Think if this makes sense. You said that that the contractor colluded with the engineer because the engineer estimate is the same. Engineer estimate is a known fact everywhere in this country.”
Going back to his point about the works being emergency, Lewis said, “For instance, when they talk about the excavation work, the people rice was burning. When they get less water and heavy sun, the rice does start get brown, so they call it burning.
“It was an emergency where they call me to go get the job done because I got the most excavator in Berbice.”
Kaieteur News understands that the Office of the Auditor General is still to complete its investigation.
The first contract awarded was for the contractor to effect repairs to the Number 61 Beach entrance. He was then awarded another contract to effect repairs to the Number 63 Beach entrance.
Then, in one day, the contractor won four bids; these were for the grading and shaping of Manarabisi Pump Station Main Drain; the evacuation of Lesbeholden North Frontlands Distributory Canal; the excavation of Limlair/Friendship drainage canal and the excavation of Liverpool drainage canal.
Soon after those contracts were awarded, the contractor made successful bids for land filling and fencing at 53 Union community ground. The contractor also won a bid to effect repairs to the main entrance inside the compound at the National Psychiatric Hospital.
From these works, the contractor collected over $57.2M
However, a special report from the Auditor General is to be issued.
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