Sep 22, 2020 News
Details are now emerging of what seems to be a racket involving the purchase of asphalt at a state-run entity.
According to well-placed sources, contractors working on government projects were up to recently mandated to take their asphalt from the Garden of Eden plant.
Kaieteur News was told by a number of persons that contractors would get asphalt at huge discounts under a scam that stretched all the way to the Ministry of Public Works.
“What happened is that there is a special department in the ministry that conducts road repairs and other maintenance works. They would order a certain amount from the plant to be billed to the ministry. They, however, collect less. The difference is what is sold at discount to contractors.”
It was explained that contractors would come in a few days later and pay about half price for the asphalt.
“This has a lot of impact. It means that a contractor is buying raw materials cheap, below cost, and can effectively compete with other contractors,” persons with knowledge of the scam said.
The asphalt plant is being operated by the Demerara Harbour Bridge Corporation (DHBC).
It would mean that the state would have lost tens of millions of dollars in revenues.
In fact, operators of privately-run asphalt plants have been complaining of little or no business.
“What they do is force contractors to buy from Garden of Eden. In fact, contractors all the way from Berbice were asked to travel all the way to East Bank Demerara when there are asphalt plants in operations in Berbice.”
It was explained that the only way this made financial sense is if the contractors were getting discounts.
“There is a simple way to check how it is happening. There needs to be a special audit. Everybody knows it takes a certain amount of bitumen to make so much asphalt. An audit of what the department of the ministry was doing will clearly show something is wrong,” one contractor admitted.
The asphalt plant would have been visited recently by the new ministers.
It will be recalled that in February, it was reported that the Eco 2000 Batch Mix Asphalt Plant, which arrived in Guyana in July 2019 was nearing completion.
It was noted then that the mechanical installation of the plant is currently about 98 percent complete, while the electrical aspect is approximately 80 percent complete.
Works commenced on the installation of the plant on January 7, 2020. It is being assembled by a team of 25 persons – 23 local DHBC staff and two German technicians.
The old asphalt plant could have produced 30 tonnes of materials per hour. It does so with the use of bitumen, sand, stone and sifting.
The new asphalt plant, it was said, will be able to produce 160 tonnes of material per hour. The state-of-the-art machine will also be able to utilise plastic bags, bottles as well as used tyres to produce material to pave roads.
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