Jan 14, 2021 News
Kaieteur News – Junior Public Works Minister, Deodat Indar, has raised questions as to how Brian Tiwari’s BK International Incorporated got permission for a deadline extension on the G$124 million sea defence project at Andrews on the Essequibo Coast from the previous Public Infrastructure Minister, David Patterson, when he no longer held the post.
Minister Indar was at the time responding to comments made by BK’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Brian Tiwari. In a letter, Tiwari proffered an explanation as to why works were still being conducted far past the project’s completion date.
BK gave a similar account as his Chief Engineer, Ganesh Sawh, who stated that it was Patterson, who instructed the company to focus their efforts on fixing the breached sea defence at Dantzig Mahaicony, East Coast Demerara.The Engineer had told Kaieteur News “there were two other contractors fixing the breach at Dantzig, but they weren’t doing a good job. So, Patterson and his Chief Hydraulics Officer had instructed us to move over to Dantzig to take over the repairs.”
Minister Indar in response stated that BK sought an extension of the Andrews project deadline in a letter dated August 10, 2020, due to the emergency works required at Dantzig.
“This request, according to BK International, was approved by David Patterson, former Minister of Public Infrastructure,” the Junior Public Works Minister wrote.
However, Minister Indar was keen to note that BK’s request was made after the Irfaan Ali-Administration took office on August 2 and after the new Ministers assumed office on August 5, 2020.
“Therefore,” Minister Indar added, “I would like to ask the question of how Mr. Ganesh Sawh got permission from Mr. David Patterson, who did not have any authority.”
Added to that, the Junior Minister noted that the request was made mere days before the initial completion date for the project. Although the official commencement date of the contract was January 21, 2020 with an August 21, 2020 completion date, the Ministry granted BK two extensions with the contract.
The contract was expected to be completed in seven months. The Junior Public Works Minister further explained that a new date of October 9, 2020 was set by the Ministry for completion of the project based on a letter issued on August 17, 2020.
“It was also mentioned in the letter that the works should be expedited assiduously to have the project completed within the stipulated deadline and failing to satisfy the requirements of the deadline, would result in liquidated damages being instituted,” the Minister continued.
Later, on September 30, 2020, a letter of non-performance was issued to BK by the Public Works Ministry, reminding the company of the date of completion and its responsibility outlined under Clause 17.2 of the General Conditions of Contract.
It was said that BK then asked for a further extension in a letter dated October 9, 2020, citing the COVID-19 pandemic as the main reason. The Ministry later granted a new date of completion – December 31, 2020.
Minister Indar further explained, “On December 28, 2020, BK International wrote seeking a further extension stating that the heavy rainfall was the reason for the project being incomplete and asked for another extension until January 31, 2021.”
However, that request was not facilitated, since the contractor has breached his timeline and has defaulted on the performance of the work more than once.
BK only recently came under fire from Government. This was after a visit to the project site revealed that only 15 percent of the works was completed although 70 percent of the payments had been awarded.
Minister Indar had reported that the project was aimed at repairing 1,000 feet of riprap sea defence at the Region Two village. However during the visit, it was observed that a meager 150 feet, or 15 percent the of works had been completed.
BK’s Chief Engineer has since insisted that 24 percent of the works have been completed.
Notwithstanding the foregoing, Minister Indar cautioned contractors that government “will not sit back and allow for mismanagement or corruption to take place at the cost of Guyanese taxpayers.”
“The Government and the Ministry of Public Works in particular is committed to ensuring that the public’s purse is protected and not continuously stripped by incompetent or errant contractors,” he said.
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