The Chinese contractors involved in two multi-billion infrastructural projects have been hauled in by Government for major breaches. The two projects are the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) expansion and the Sheriff Street/Mandela Avenue upgrades.
The airport project, to the tune of US$150M, has been dragging on since 2011 after it was signed in Jamaica.
The contractor, China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) has been under a cloud for allegedly using its equipment granted under duty free and other concessions, for the airport project, on another location.
The Sheriff Street/Mandela Avenue upgrade project was awarded to Sinohydro Corporation Limited (China) for over US$31M, in December 2017.
In a rapidly deteriorating condition, the Sheriff/Mandela link is a critical one that connects the East Coast to the East Bank Demerara, which leads to the Timehri airport.
The Ministry of Public Infrastructure has reportedly been upset with the contractor for delays that saw a late start.
According to officials, this week, the Ministry was up-in-arms with both contractors over a number of issues.
For the airport, the arbitrary decision by CHEC to cut power to four passenger bridges was the last straw.
CHEC remained defiant to have all four bridges down although the Ministry said it had a plan.
With a few months left before the liability defects period runs out on the bridges, the contractor decided to halt operations of them on Monday citing unsafe ground conditions, which could lead to instability.
The Ministry is, however, reportedly suspicious of the timing of the contractor.
Passengers were forced to once again walk the tarmac, without the comfort of the air-conditioned bridges, which are connected to the terminal building.
Yesterday, CHEC officials reportedly were summoned to the Ministry of Public Infrastructure where Minister David Patterson conducted a meeting.
The contractor was reportedly told of numerous environmental and other breaches, with the Ministry signaling intentions to seek liquidated damages.
The Ministry is reportedly not buying claims from CHEC that it has busted on the project.
Contacted, Minister within the Ministry of Public Infrastructure, Jaipaul Sharma, yesterday disclosed that government has taken note of the growing concerns over the execution of projects, including the airport, one that started under the previous administration.
He admitted that a number of actions will be taken with regards of the CJIA project and the contractor.
Officials have been complaining that despite the airport project being monitored by an independent consultant – MMM Group from Canada in collaboration with CEMCO, a local company – there has been little action taken against CHEC for environmental and other non-compliance issues. They have been written up numerous times.
The airport project was delayed significantly after CHEC found that it was extending the runway into swampy area and there would be slippage problems. It is unclear if Guyana has taken the burden of the costs. The decision was taken to extend then at the south side.
The work has been continuing since 2013 with instead of a new terminal building, Guyana is left with a renovated one. There prices in the bill of quantities were grossly inflated also. Instead of eight passenger bridges, the airport has only four. There was flooding in the airport terminal recently.
With regards to the Sheriff Street project, Minister Sharma said that Government’s concerns are that the timeline is kept; that the project is delivered within budget and that there is compliance.
However, that project has been saddled with troubles.
Although the contract was inked in 2017, it was not until mid-last year that the project got underway – months later.
The Chinese contractor, now way behind, has hired a number of other contractors, giving them sections to complete. However, the movement of utilities and compliance with the contract terms have been proving to be a headache.
In addition to poor traffic management, there were complaints from residents and others of dust and other environmental issues.
There was a motor vehicle crash last week that made the Ministry pay even more attention.
According to Minister Sharma, there is tighter scrutiny of projects by the Ministry.
He said CHEC was summoned early this week and met him in his office. He disclosed that Sinohydro will be written to immediately by the Project Manager for a number of steps to be taken to correct the situation.
While Sinohydro has not been summoned to meet the ministers yet, they have been hauled in by the supervisors and warned.
Government last year had contemplated terminating the project. Works that were slated to be undertaken were: the upgrading of the existing carriageway and resurfacing from the northern end of Sheriff Street all the way to Homestretch Avenue.
The initial plan had also indicated that from that point, to the Mandela Avenue-Hunter Street junction, there was going to be provisions to cater for four lanes of traffic.
The plan also stated that the completed roads will be outfitted with the requisite road safety amenities including sidewalks, bicycle lanes and “hopefully” adequate parking spaces. Bridges will also be upgraded.
There has been increasing calls for better management of public projects, following a number of failures.
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