Chinese firms vie for new phase of East Coast expansion project

-as part of condition for US$57M loan from China

Through a US$57 million loan from China, another phase of the East Coast of Demerara four-lane expansion is set to begin later this year.

Bids for the project, which will see the expansion of the road from Better Hope to Belfield, were yesterday opened at the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board in Georgetown.

With four Chinese companies bidding for the contract, an official close to the project told Stabroek News that this was one of the conditions of the agreement made with Government of China for funding.

The official said that with the Chinese working on the project, it was expected that the work would be completed in the timeframe given and not dogged by prolonged delays or poor performance as was the case with the first phase of the project.
20140514MF East Coast Road Expansion-1

General Manager of the Works Services Group of the Ministry of Public Works Geoffrey Vaughn told Stabroek News that bids for the supervision consultancy of the project are scheduled to be opened next week.

He said when this is done and both tenders are evaluated, it is expected that work would commence sometime in late July or August of this year.

He explained that the upgrade and widening includes same to any bridges within the area of works. He further explained that the contract also covers the building of drains and sidewalks for the stretch of road.

Vaughn said that while the project is scheduled for 18 months, a specific timeframe will be given only after evaluations are done with the consultancy firm. “It is estimated for 18 months but can be 12 months. We will look with the consultancy to see what is realistic,” he said.

Manager of the Works Ministry’s Roads and Bridges Department Ron Rahaman told Stabroek News last week that the first and long overdue phase of the East Coast four-lane expansion project is now set to be completed by the end of this year due to inclement weather, material shortages, bad management of projects by contractors and the slow relocation of utilities.

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.

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.

Rahaman had said that Lot One of the project, 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 doled 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. Rahaman 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.

 

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