May 22, 2022 News
…UK had threatened to withhold grant money when PPP said project was not a priority—Patterson
By Gary Eleazar
Kaieteur News – The Government of Guyana on Friday last inked a contract for a paved stretch of road between Linden and Mabura as part of a larger plan to extend the ingress and egress route to Lethem and ultimately Brazil.
In a public missive by the Ministry of Finance outlining some of the specifics with regard the financing of the project, it was confirmed that the Linden to Mabura Road Project is also the largest single project ever financed by the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and marks its largest geographic footprint.”
Providing a breakdown of the source of financing for the US$190M venture, it was noted, US$112 million of the amount would be coming in the form of a loan from the CDB.
According to the Ministry, the remainder of the financing will be coming in the form of a grant of US$66M from the Government of the United Kingdom via the CDB-administered United Kingdom Caribbean Infrastructure Fund (CIF).
Government is expected to pitch in US$12M from its coffers—monies that include earnings from the still nascent oil and gas sector.
The information was disclosed during the sod turning ceremony for the construction of the 121 kilometres of asphaltic road.
It would be poignant to note that when Senior Minister within the Office of the President, Dr. Ashni Singh presented the national budget in January this year, a perusal of the estimates revealed that of the total $552.9B figure, a significant portion would be had from loans—a loan portfolio that is projected to double this year.
It was observed at the time, according to the information presented, that Guyana’s highest loan stock stands and will remain; the IDB projected this year to be some G$11.2B, up from G$9.6B last year.India is listed as the source of the next highest source of financing expected to be some G$4.2B this year, up from a mere G$400M last year.
Loans from China are also expected to skyrocket this year moving from G$779.6M last year to G$1.2B this year.
Grants from institutions such as the European Union (EU), Japan, the World Bank, the CDB and China is expected to account for some G$10.2B of the G$37B that will account for financing in the 2022 Budget with funds coming from external sources through loans and grants.
The Ministry in its missive, in relation to the sod turning ceremony, observed that in February last, the CDB had issued its no objection for negotiations to commence with the most responsive bidder—Construtora Queiroz Galvao S.A. from Brazil—being awarded the contract for the upgrading of the road.
The project is being touted as the first link of the highway between Linden and Lethem and is the first segment of the approximately 450 kilometres roadway.
The occasion was not had without what has now become the norm between the government and political opposition.
During the sod turning ceremony held in Linden, Region 10, Senior Minister Singh, in delivering the keynote address told the gathered officials that the Linden to Mabura Road was part of a larger more integrated plan of the People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C) Government which was long in the making and which comprises several transformational projects.
Former Minister of Public Infrastructure under the coalition administration, David Patterson, however, in a bid to provide some additional clarity on the path to securing the funding for that project, disagreed and said that it was his administration that had managed to secure the funding for the project.
Patterson in his submissions, first publicised on his social media platform and later shared formally with media houses, said that it was in 2015, “in an effort to reconnect with its former colonies, who they felt were moving more towards China for their infrastructural needs, the UK government offered seven Caribbean countries a grant of £300M to execute landmark projects (United Kingdom Caribbean Infrastructure Partnership Fund (UKCIF).”
Guyana’s portion of that grant amounted to £55M.
He said that in a bid to access the grant, “Several projects were submitted for consideration by the then Ministry of Public Infrastructure, namely: Linden-Mabura Road; Fixed bridge crossing at Kubururu; Lethem Regional Airport Upgrade; Parika Stelling Upgrade.
According to Patterson, the Linden-Mabura Road was selected as the most viable project and feasibility and design works commenced in 2016, while several rounds of consultation were held with communities in Regions 8, 9 and 10.”
Final designs, he said, were completed in 2019 and the loan agreement was signed in 2020.
“Of interest, in 2019, the PPP informed the UKCIF team that the Linden-Mabura Road project was not a priority project for their party, and if they were successful in the upcoming elections, they will cancel this project. The response by the UK was unequivocal – cancel this project and we will cancel our funding.”
To this end, he posited, “while everyone should rightly be pleased to see this long talked about road linkage come to fruition, don’t be fooled or misled that it is only now being considered and implemented.”
He was adamant that the indisputable facts are that the signing is a result of the vision of the previous administration coupled with the support of the UK government and of course the Government’s good sense to follow through with a great project that will benefit all Guyanese.
According to the Ministry of Finance in its public missive, however, the process leading to the award of the contract followed a stringent and transparent procurement process whereby the call for proposals for the prequalification of contractors was made in February 2021.
Ten contractors were prequalified and the prequalified list of contractors was approved by the CDB in October 2021 after which the bidding process began in October 2021 and concluded in December 2021.
“The bids were carefully scrutinised and evaluated by a team of local engineers. After a thorough evaluation process involving engagements and consultations with the Caribbean Development Bank Consultant, Mott MacDonald and other specialists, Construtora Queiroz Galvao S.A was determined as the most responsive bid indicating full compliance with all Environmental, Social, Health and Safety requirements.”
According to the Finance Minister, the CDB subsequently indicated its concurrence with the recommendation of the Guyanese evaluation committee and issued it no-objection to commence negotiations with the winning bidder.
The contract inked is for an asphaltic road 121 kilometres long with a 7.2 metres wide carriageway that will also feature a cycle and pedestrian lane measuring two metres wide, along with 10 bus stops outfitted with ramps for persons with disabilities along with a number of bridges and culverts that will be replaced and some 123 lights will to be installed.
Among those gathered for the occasion on Friday—sod turning and contract signing—were British High Commissioner – Jane Miller, Minister of Public Works – Bishop Juan Edghill and Minister within the Ministry of Public Works – Deodat Indar who all delivered remarks at the ceremony.
Others present included Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Public Works – Vladim Persaud and Chief Executive Officer of GO-Invest – Dr. Peter Ramsaroop, among other regional leaders along officials of the contracting firm Constructora Queiroz S.A.
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