The overdue East Bank and East Coast four-lane expansion projects are now to be completed by the end of this year, as inclement weather, material shortages, bad management of projects by contractors and the slow relocation of utilities continue to fuel lags.
As a result of the prolonged project period, the supervisory aspect of the contracts has thus far cost the ministry an additional US$800,000.
This is according to Manager of the Works Ministry’s Roads and Bridges Department Ron Ramadan who made the revelation during a recent interview with Stabroek News.
In January, Rahaman had said that the expansion of certain sections of the East Bank Demerara road would be completed by the third quarter of this year, while General Manager of the Works Services Group Geoffrey Vaughn was optimistic that expansion of certain sections of the East Coast Demerara road would be completed by next month.
East Bank Demerara expansion
The East Bank four-lane expansion project, which costs upward of US$17 million, is a joint initiative between the Government of Guyana (GoG) and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). The project aims to install two additional lanes of road from the National Stadium at Providence to Diamond Housing Scheme.
The project is being done in lots.
Lot One, which stretches from Providence to the Covent Garden Water-Treatment Plant, is being done by Dipcon Engineering, while Lot Two, which runs from the Water Treatment Plant to Little Diamond, is being done by Gaico Construction in association with Earth Movers. The final lot, Lot Three, which stretches from Little Diamond to the Diamond Intersection, was awarded to BK International.
In January, Rahaman said that bad weather and complications regarding the removal of GT&T, GPL and GWI utility infrastructural components prevented contractors from meeting previous deadlines. The project was supposed to be completed in March of 2013 after the agreements were signed on October 3 2011. Several deadlines have been set, revised and reset, and missed since.
Rahaman admitted that the removal of utilities continues to be an impediment to work, although most of it has been removed so far. He said contractors are waiting for GT&T utilities to be removed from areas around the Mocha and the Diamond bridges for pile driving to commence. Both bridges need to be widened, but these works cannot begin until the utilities are removed, Rahaman explained. The bridge outside Demerara Distillers Limited (DDL) also has to be widened on both sides he said, but this too cannot be done until all utilities in the area are relocated.
Currently, Lot One is 41% complete; Lot Two 49% complete; and Lot Three 25% complete.
Ramahan said that BK International is currently putting down asphalt on its portion of the project, while Gaico Construction and Earth Movers had recently commenced the laying of asphalt in Lot Two. Meanwhile, he said that the lack of aggregate locally has stalled work on Lot One, and that Dipcon has requested permission for a waiver of duties to bring in aggregate from external suppliers.
At the other end of the road, the expansion of a section of road in Timehri is more than 80% complete. BK has the contract for this project as well, and Rahaman says that work on this end progressed quickly because there were hardly any issues with the removal of utilities. However, the final stages of the expansion in Timehri has stalled because the contractor is waiting on GT&T to remove buried cables. He said that work has not taken place in Timehri for two to three months because of the presence of the utilities.
Work on this end involved the overlaying of a section of road at a cost of US$1.6 million, as well as the construction of an additional two lanes of road which will end at the Timehri Police Station. The extension is being done at a cost of $618 million. In addition, several street lights were to be installed, and a sidewalk constructed.
While the cost for the civil works aspect of the contract remains the same, Rahaman says the supervisory aspect has been overrun by an additional US$800,000 since supervisors have been required to work for a longer period than initially intended.
Rahaman said that if the project progresses beyond this year’s end the ministry will seek to apply the penalties provided in the contract agreement.
In his 2014 budget presentation speech, Finance Minister Dr Ashni Singh announced that government will be seeking to join the expansion work being conducted on both sides of the East Bank Road, by installing two additional lanes to the stretch of road running from Diamond to Timehri.
Rahamn told Stabroek News that consultants are currently working on a feasibility study for the project, as well as an initial design. The consultants, he explained, are considering elements such as the alignment of parts of the road which comes near the Demerara River. This work started last month, he said, and is expected to take about six months.
Once this phase of the project is complete the contracts will be tendered. If all goes according to plan he said, work can start as early as September.
East Coast Demerara expansion
Meanwhile, the addition of two extra lanes to certain sections of the East Coast road is moving along, but it is believed that the June deadline will not be met. Rahaman said that Lot One of the project, which be being by done by Dipcon, is around 70% complete.
Lot One now includes the stretch of road from Better Hope to Triumph, after the Montrose to Triumph section of the work (once referred to as Lot One) was joined to the Better Hope to Triumph section (once referred to Lot Two). Lot One was initially contracted to Falcon Engineering Services for $468 million, but the entire stretch (both Lot One and Two) is now being referred to as Lot One, and is being done by Dipcon. Falcon’s contract was taken away after the government found that the contracting firm was behind schedule and was allegedly carrying out inferior work. An additional $463 million had to be dished out by government for Dipcon to repair the reportedly substandard work done by Falcon, and complete its Lot.
Falcon has since taken the Works Ministry to court for money which it claims it is owed. The matter is still before the court.
Dipcon also has the $328 million contract for Lot Five, which stretches from Triumph to Mon Repos. Work on this Lot is said to be 80% complete. Rahaman said that work on this lot is not moving as fast as it could because the contractor continues to encounter some issues sourcing aggregate.
Lot Three, which stretches from La Bonne Intention (LBI) to Beterverwagting (BV) was contracted to Courtney Benn Contracting Services and is valued $349 million. This section of work is said to be 20% complete. Lot Four, which stretches from BV to Triumph, was awarded to Compustruct Contracting Services and is valued at $322 million. Work to this section of the road is also about 20% complete.
The poor performances on the part of both contractors, Rahaman said, is due to internal issues they have been encountering. While he would not comment on the specific nature of the issues, he said that very little work was done by either contractor from November 2013 to March 2014. Significant work only started sometime in April.
He said the contractors, in preparing to conduct significant works, have been cleaning the materials which were left to collect rust and vegetation over the several months they were not being used and were left at the work-site. Both, he said, have asked for an extensions to complete their work. The requests are being reviewed by the ministry.
Meanwhile, Lot Six has been completed. The $345 million contract for the Lot, which stretches from Mon Repos to De Endragt was entrusted to Colin Talbott Contracting Services. Ramaham said that Lot Six was completed with savings which is now being used to carry out work to the Lot Seven. Colin Talbott Contracting Services also has the contract for this Lot which Rahaman said “came in late last year.” Lot Seven is around 20% completed.
East Bank Berbice road
As regards the East Bank Berbice road, Rahaman said Cabinet recently approved the tendering of the contract to conduct a design study for the work, which is being funded by the IDB under an agreement for road network upgrade and expansion, with the government.
According to a press release from the Works Ministry dated May 3, the rehabilitation of this road is expected to begin in October. Quoting Sunil Ganesh, the engineer overseeing the project, the release said the work will start from Main Street, New Amsterdam and end at Light Town, which is a 16-kilometre stretch of road.
“The road design, which is being prepared by a Canadian consulting firm EXP in association with CEMCO, is expected to be completed in July, 2014,” Ganesh was quoted as saying.
The finished product will be an asphaltic concrete thoroughfare.