Dec 03, 2021 News
Kaieteur News – Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), Jermaine Figueira said that government’s constant request for additional funding to complete major projects is a key indicator of mismanagement and possible corruption.
In an invited comment, the PAC Chair highlighted his concerns over recent media reports, where Minister of Public Works, Juan Edghill is quoted as saying that more monies will be required to complete the Sheriff/Mandela Road Expansion Project.
According to Figueira, “The request by the government and more specially, the Minister of Public Works for the Sheriff/Mandela road is most concerning.”
He reminded that this project is being funded through an Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) loan agreement that was signed by the incumbent administration in June 2012. Some US$66.2 million was granted by the international bank to the Government.
Of this amount $US 42 million was allocated for the Sheriff/Mandela road, $US 8 million for the East Bank road and the remainder for a study of the Wismar bridge, according to the PAC Chair.
In this regard, the PAC Chair said, “this additional request for more tax payers’ money is a clear indication of gross mismanagement and poor leadership”. He pointed out that the project is now over due by more than two years and has already exceeded its initial budget. In addition to this, the Chairman flagged the substandard works being produced by contractors, despite receiving huge sums as was evident in the most recent case of the Linden road works.
Yesterday, it was reported that the retaining walls of a major thoroughfare in the Silvertown community, of Wismar, Linden collapsed a mere two days after it was constructed by Contractor, David Sugrim, of D&R Construction Company to the tune of $11 million dollars. “We have already seen across the country numerous substandard works on roads, drainage and some buildings being built,” Figueira noted. Moreover, he said that in some cases, contractors are given more work load than they can handle.
“Some engineers, clerk of works, and those who direct who should get, and not get those contracts are complicit, and are still being allowed to work. In many instances, these officers are given more contracts to supervise and work respectively to no benefit of the tax payers who have to pay for their shortcomings,” the PAC Chair argued.
In fact, he said that handing out more monies to contractors, in excess of the initial contract sum, will not result in proper work being done. Instead, “What is required is prudent leadership, management and oversight from someone who has the knowledge, experience and humility to learn, that is what is most needed,” the Public Accounts Chairperson argued.
On Wednesday, Edghill hosted a media tour, where he announced that the US$31 million Sheriff Street/Mandela Avenue road project will require additional funding to complete. It must be noted that even though the additional funds are required, there will be no major changes to the design of the road. The minister went on to say that the price of materials would have changed from the time the contract was signed to now, and the ministry had to hold the contractor at prices at the time of the signing of the contract. He further went on to say that with all of the work that had to be done to the pre-existing road before moving ahead with the project, the ministry was forced to use quantities that were more than in the original bill.
In another instance, within the said Ministry, the Cheddi Jagan International Airport was initially pegged at US$150 million and has to date exceeded this sum by over US$10 million. But even though this is the case, more money is yet to be allocated to see this project through. As recent as September this year, bids were invited to fix the roof of the facility, which is estimated to cost an additional $23.3 million.
Even though Edghill recently promised that the total cost for the project will not exceed US$200 million, there is no guarantee, as the project is currently a work-in-progress.
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