Rival company says specialty hospital contracts likely to be retendered

Indian company, Fedders Lloyd says it believes that after New Delhi’s Parlia-ment reviews the controversial contract award for US$18 million Specialty Hospital at Turkeyen, East Coast Demerara, it will be retendered here.

“We believe that after all the evidence has been reviewed and this matter is taken before our parliament, when it reconvenes… this project will go back to tender,” Chair-man of Fedders Lloyd, Naresh Chandra Soral told Stabroek News last week.

He said too that with Indian parliamentarian Kirti Azad taking Guyana’s specialty hospital project along with others from countries in Africa, in total some US$1.2 billion, and questioning their transparency, his company is more confident that the contract

Surveying work on Friday at the specialty hospital site
Surveying work on Friday at the specialty hospital site

will be reviewed.  The project is being financed via a US$18 million line of credit from India’s Exim Bank and Fedders Lloyd has objected to the award of the contract to another Indian company, Surendra Engineering.

Fedders Lloyd said that it had lodged reports with India’s Exim Bank and the country’s External Affairs Ministry on the contentious award and would be pursuing the matter until the contract is retendered.

In a letter providing a timeline from the contract advertisement up to their complaints written to the Guyana government, the company asks the Ministry of External Affairs in India to look into the matter and launch an investigation.

“In view of the facts stated above, we shall earnestly request that a thorough review may kindly be made before the contract is finally approved for the execution of the project,” the letter stated.

“You will kindly appreciate that such review is necessary to ensure transparency and fair play which is indeed the policy of the government of India for release of funds under lines of credit,” it added.

Alliance for Change Leader Khemraj Ramjattan had told Stabroek News last week that India had halted funds for the specialty hospital amid claims by Azad of corruption.

“The Exim Bank of India has not released any funds. Government was lying to us when they said that the money had come… the monies from that end has been halted and from this end will continue to be blocked,” Ramjattan had said.

He disclosed that he had sought an audience with MP Azad, the former cricketer turned anti-corruption crusader, who has taken the case of the controversial hospital contract award to his country’s Parliament.

Grubbing work being done by B&K machinery
Grubbing work being done by B&K machinery

During last year’s consideration of the budget estimates, a proposed $1.25B allocation for the controversial hospital was cut by the opposition. Main opposition APNU had pointed to the government’s lack of dialogue on the opposition’s concern that the deal was not transparent.  The AFC had also pointed out that Surendra Engineering  already had problems with the Enmore Sugar Packaging Plant and had never before built a hospital.

After the award of the contract in August of 2012, Fedders Lloyd had complained about the tendering process, saying that Surendra was chosen because of favouritism and its links to the current

ruling administration. Fedders Lloyd had written to the Ministry of Health here outlining its concerns. The complaint by Fedders Lloyd in India and the cut of funds by Parliament here seemed to have stalled the project.

However, at the December 12, 2013 sitting of the National Assembly, government managed to secure approval of $34.4 million for the project owing to the absence of APNU member Volda Lawrence during the vote. This paved the way for foundation work for the hospital to commence in January this year, for which BK International was hired by Surendra.

When Stabroek News visited the hospital site last week, a BK International employee referred all questions to Surendra Engineering. However, calls to Surendra’s representative in Guyana yielded no answers. He promised that he would have his company’s public relations department get back to Stabroek News. He would not say where his company’s office was located. To date no correspondence was received from either the Surendra representative or his public relations department.

Stabroek News has been trying for over a year to obtain an audience with a representative of the company. Numerous calls to the company’s contact numbers in India were never answered and repeated emails remain unanswered.

Further deliberation on the contract in New Delhi will likely have to await India’s general elections which is slated for April to May this year. It remains unclear what will happen after the $34.4 million approved in December is exhausted but the opposition has said that the project will continue to be rejected until its concerns are addressed.

 

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