The haphazard supply of pumps and fittings from the Indian company, Surendra under an $800m contract is clear evidence that the job should not have gone to it, AFC Leader Khemraj Ramjattan has said.
In an interview with Stabroek News, Ramjattan noted that “It is a convention with India and China that money lent by them, when they give you money they expect you to have the parts for a project provided by them through their businesses and manufacturers… you don’t take Japanese money and run to Tanzania to fix it up.”
The government is yet to provide clear information on the supply of the pumps and where any of them have been installed.
Ramjattan told Stabroek News that the 14 Surendra pumps that were to be provided since 2011 were being supplied in a haphazard way. He said that “what we are understanding from out of India is that they loaded the money, but Surendra has gone and subcontracted parts to American companies.”
He continued “Surendra subcontracted to American companies, but they have taken so long that the ministry had to finally say `hey wherever these pumps are and the parts then we will just have to speak to whoever that is and get the parts…the gearboxes and what not’”.
Ramjattan told Stabroek News that while Surendra was awarded the $800 million contract for the 14 pumps it was clear from the inception that the engineering company did not have the ability to supply the pumps. “They told us that they didn’t have the experience, so we knew the government knew that they didn’t have the capabilities so now that we know they have subcontracted out and to other places not in India it is a big deal, very big.”
The leader of the AFC said that Surendra had stated in their bid that they would be manufacturing the pumps, which would be inclusive of all the parts. Ramjattan stated that the tendering process is done in such a way that the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board (NPTAB) is made aware of the bidders’ intentions prior to the bid being awarded. He said that Surendra was claiming responsibility for the manufacturing of the pumps and three years after the fact Guyana is calling on American contractors to provide gearboxes because of Surendra’s subcontracting.
Ramjattan noted that the Kirloskar Group out of Indian specialises in the manufacturing of pumps, but because of the Guyana government’s relationship with Surendra, Kirloskar’s bid was ignored. He said that Surendra’s inability to produce pumps almost four years after the original tender was awarded was not surprising but nonetheless incredibly frustrating and irresponsible.
He told Stabroek News that “Surendra (getting) this deal is just another sign of the government’s preferences…this government gives contracts to loyalists first and who may be incompetent”.
He said that “the government of Indian is annoyed, because generally the Indian government would like to see that Indian firms are benefitting from the money they are giving as loans. They have Indian companies that can supply all of the required components,” and once again highlighted Kirloskar.
“Kirloskar who had bid and who manufactures pumps in very high quality, that is there prime business, did not win the contract. They had indicated that Surendra didn’t know anything about the pumps,” but it did not matter the AFC leader stated.
Surendra has also been embroiled in controversy here over their contract for the Enmore sugar packaging plant. Surendra was also selected for the Specialty Hospital despite not having built such a facility before and ahead of another Indian firm with wide experience in this area.
For these reasons and others, the AFC has been pressing for the establishment of the Public Procurement Commission.
Ramjattan said that the tender documents for the pumps contract should be made available but that acquiring them has proved difficult in many instances. Stabroek News has been awaiting information from the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority on the precise locations where the 14 pumps are to be placed but that list has not yet been produced.
Meanwhile, the NPTAB opened bids on Tuesday for the construction of pump stations at Joppa, No. 43, Eversham and Gangaram, Berbice and Lima in Essequibo. Agriculture Minister, Dr Leslie Ramsammy had previously stated that a pump station at Lima was underway to host one of the 14 Surendra pumps. This publication was unable to contact either the NDIA or the ministry for comment on whether this bid was for the same station. If it was, it would indicate how far from installation this pump is three years after the contract was awarded.
Ramsammy told Stabroek News that the Surendra pumps would be placed at No 66, Corentyne; Bengal, Corentyne; Enterprise, East Coast Demerara; Bagotville West Bank Demerara; Patentia, West Bank Demerara; Windsor Forest, West Coast Demerara; Pine Ground, Mahaicony and Lima on the Essequibo Coast.
Stabroek News was told by the Agriculture Minister that the pumps were in Guyana, however the ministry was awaiting gearboxes from American contractors.
Pump stations are still being constructed across Guyana three years after the original contract was awarded. Stabroek News visited three sites: Windsor Forest has two lonely piles driven into the ground, at Bagotville contractors were constructing the pump station after, no pump was on site and at Patentia contractors did have part of the pump on site.
This publication has also made attempts to review the tender documents to see if they contained any clauses to ensure that the pumps were delivered by a certain time and with all parts.