Two consultancies bid for Hope canal

Two bids have been submitted to the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board, for consultancy services for the construction of the Hope Conservancy Relief Structure.

One of the bids was submitted by E&A Consultants Inc. and the other was a joint bid submitted by the SRK Engineering firm in association with McDonald’s Construction Company.  Stabroek News has confirmed that E&A Consultants Inc. and SRK Engineering are local firms.

The tenders were yesterday opened in the boardroom of the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board of the Ministry of Finance, after the deadline was extended by one week. Minister of Agriculture Robert Persaud told Stabroek News last week that this was done to facilitate bids from interested overseas-based engineers.

The firms have tendered to provide consultancy services for the provision of engineering design of the East Demerara Water Conservancy Northern Relief Structure at Hope/Dochfour, East Coast Demerara, Region No.4. Recently, President Bharrat Jagdeo announced that $3B was being budgeted for the building of a special relief channel to drain water from the East Demerara Water Conservancy (EDWC). After a period of consultancy, work on the relief channel is expected to begin later this year and is slated to be completed by June 2010.

Stabroek News was told yesterday that the bids will be subjected to the normal procedure regarding such projects.  This means that they will be examined by an evaluation team-which will most likely comprise a senior official of the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA) and experienced engineers. The bids will be examined according to the criteria within the bid document and once all the necessary criteria are met a recommendation will be made.  This recommendation will then have to be confirmed by the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board of the Ministry of Finance. This process could be completed within a month this newspaper was told.

However, there are mixed views about the construction of this conservancy with several experienced engineers saying that such a construction may not be the best option to drain the EDWC.  Minister of Agriculture Robert Persaud, however, said that the exact form of this relief channel has not been confirmed as yet and that the best engineering decision will be made.

Another major concern raised was whether the one year deadline set by the government is realistic, especially when factors such as the size and complexity of the project are considered. One letter writer, Charles Sohan, opined that a project of such magnitude would take a minimum of three years to be completed.

Sohan also queried how the figure of $3B (US$15M) was arrived at since no design, bill of quantities and costing have been prepared for this project. Experienced local engineer, Malcolm Alli also stated that $3B will not be enough to complete the job. He said that the extensive construction which would include constructing a canal 80 ft wide and 10 miles long, as well as two large sluices, several bridges over the canal, a bridge at the roadway, access roads and other structures will all have to be financed.

Alli advised that rather than investing in this relief structure, that efforts be made to improve the 5-door sluice at Land of Canaan on the East Bank of Demerara in addition to the one 7-door Abary Control Sluice at the Abary River.

Project Director of the Guyana Citizen’s Initiative (GCI), Dr Rupert Roopnaraine told Stabroek News that the authorities should work on improving the outlets towards the Demerara River rather than invest so much money in what is a challenging undertaking. According to Roopnaraine, he has been advised by engineers that improving the capacity of the outlets closer to the Demerara River would greatly ease the strain on the side of the EDWC nearer to the Atlantic Ocean.
Meanwhile Executive member of the Guyana Association of Professional Engineers (GAPE), Melvyn Sankies stated that it is imperative that advice from older engineers be sought. Minister Robert Persaud said that the government is open to advice from such individuals.

This newspaper was reliably informed that the authorities have approached a senior local engineer for advice on the way forward concerning this relief channel.