Minister of Public Infrastructure, David Patterson, last evening disclosed that the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) has stopped payments to the Chinese contractor for several infringements.
Yesterday, the contractor, Sinohydro Corporation Limited, started laying off staffers, claiming that it has not been paid in three months. However, the minister indicated that the IDB was unhappy over several issues with the US$30M-plus project.
Residents and drivers alike have been blasting the company over the project.
The project is supposed to upgrade one of the most critical road links in the country – one that connects the East Bank to the East Coast.
Yesterday, letters started surfacing where Sinohydro begun sending home their workers.
It said that the ministry has not paid them in the past three months.
A letter to a worker said that “as MPI has not paid our company for the construction of the project in recent last three months…our company has encountered several difficulties in production and operation, necessitating the workforce reduction…and suspend (sic) or terminate the construction contract with MPI”.
The company was awarded the US$31.03M Inter-American Bank (IDB) project for the Sheriff Street-Mandela Avenue expansion in December 2017. Due to the host of major businesses located on the Sheriff Street
thoroughfare, over time, the road could not complement the volume of traffic.
It was reported that the total distance of roadway to be constructed is seven kilometres and would involve road widening, reconstruction of failed sections and asphalt overlay.
The initial plan had also indicated that from that point, to the Mandela Avenue-Hunter Street junction, there were going to be provisions to cater for four lanes of traffic.
But in September of this year, the company was hauled before the Ministry and warned due to several infractions.
Government was also on the verge of terminating the contract.
According to reports received, Kaieteur News was told then that construction was delayed due to the failure of the contractor to honour obligations.
There were several issues with the improper management of the project, when it came to traffic, environment and meeting deadlines.
Yesterday, Minister Patterson in a Facebook post said that his attention was drawn to a post in which the contractor which is executing the Sheriff/Mandela road expansion project, issued an employee a dismissal letter.
“The reason given for the termination was that the Ministry of Public Infrastucture (MoPI) has not paid them (the contractor) for the last three months. This road expansion contract is an IDB funded contract which is subject to performance audits by the bank. The IDB has suspended disbursement to the project because of the numerous serious health and safety infractions as well as traffic management failures by the contractor.”
Patterson disclosed that Sinohydro was warned on several occasions to rectify these issues but unfortunately, to date, the majority of failures identified have remained outstanding.
“I have been on record on several occasions raising the issue about this contractor’s performance, so the suspending of disbursements by the IDB does not come as a surprise. MoPI has already commenced actions to address the defaulting issues, since some of these failures pose serious safety risks to the general public.”
Patterson said that while the dismissal of any employee is regrettable, the contractor should not seek to blame any other entity for the clear disregard of contractual obligations.
A full statement is expected to be issued today..
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