Sep 20, 2021 News
Kaieteur News – Minister of Public Works, Juan Edghill, stated during a recent interview with Globespan that the Sheriff-Mandela road project is another mess that his government inherited. The Public Works Minister further described the road expansion project as being similar to that of the US$160M and counting Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) expansion project.
The road expansion project which was awarded to the tune of US$31M was launched in 2018 but was subsequently halted after the A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) government threatened to take the project from the Chinese contractor, Sinohydro Corporation. However, after taking office last year, the People’s Progressive Party/Civic Government recommenced the project.
During the interview, titled ‘Infrastructural Development and Guyana’s Future,’ Minister Edghill was questioned on the completion of the road project to which he stated that it is another mess akin to the CJIA expansion project as he noted several setbacks that plagued the project’s completion.
The Minister noted that the first setback was when the PPP/C government attained office and realised that nothing was done on the project for more than a year. He also stated, “The programme was filled with controversy, the consultant, the contractor and the project engineer were at each other, and not a good environment existed…”
According to the Minister, this then led to him getting everyone back at the starting table while adding that by September 2020, work had recommenced on the road. He further stated that a drone image would show the work that has been done thus far.
The Minister also revealed that the contractor had contacted him indicating that he would like to start buying asphalt from the Government’s asphalt plant, since his subcontractor is unable to provide the asphalt in the quantity and the rate that he would like in order to get the project pushing to reach the adjusted October 31, 2021, deadline.
Kaieteur News previously reported that in November 2019, the road expansion project was halted after the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) ceased funding due to non-compliance of the contractor with health, safety and traffic management standards.
At the time of the suspension, Former Minister with responsibility for Public Works, David Patterson noted that the issues brought about by the contractor’s negligence had persisted, even though the company was engaged on its shortcomings. “Sinohydro was warned on several occasions to rectify these issues but unfortunately, the majority of failures identified remained outstanding,” the former Minister had stated.
Nevertheless, the Public Infrastructure Minister at the time said that the contractor will foot the bill for road safety works undertaken by the government.
It was reported that with an injection of $6.4B, the road project will see the rehabilitation of pavements, construction of bridges, culverts and a pedestrian overhead walkway at North Ruimveldt, along with traffic and drainage upgrades.
It is the intention to also extend the design life of the pavement and all roadway structures to a minimum of 20 years from the expected end of construction.
Moreover, in relation to the CJIA expansion project that the Minister made reference to while discussing the road expansion project – that project contract was signed since in 2011 under then President, Bharrat Jagdeo, and was passed through the truncated presidency of Donald Ramotar, and the project is yet to be completed.
As the cost for the CJIA expansion project continues to climb, Minister Edghill had stated that the final cost would not surpass US$200M.
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