Drainage work along Republic Avenue, Mackenzie, Linden which had been stopped by the Linden Municipality and the Regional Democratic Council on the grounds that it posed a threat to the integrity of the road, resumed last week Wednesday.
National Authorizing Office (NAO) Task Force head Felix Girard said the works were being done according to specifications and designs submitted by the former Linden Economic Advancement Programme (LEAP). In a recent joint press conference Regional Chairman Mortimer Mingo and Interim Committee Chairman Orin Gordon said they had moved to stop the works on the said grounds and that they had called for the project to be reassessed.
However, Girard said he did not know why the works had been stopped but was surprised that both Gordon and Mingo had objections since the designs were submitted by LEAP whose advisory group they are members of. “These drains are built according to the designs that were provided by LEAP and we normally come and check them twice every month and we checked and see that they are being built according to specifications. We have a clerk of works who checks on the works too,” he said. Girard also said that he is positive that the integrity of the road is not threatened since the designs cater for parapets similar to the existing section of the road near Republic Bank.
The designs which were done in the latter half of 2009 show two-feet drains along the entire stretch of Republic Avenue and four culverts through which the drains flow directly. Girard said that bringing the drains up to the level of the road would result in flooding. The European Union, which is funding the project, had cut its original budget since there was insufficient time to complete the works. “Normally there is a one-year defects liability period and maybe a year to construct…they wanted to stop the projects but we said no, ok, six months defects liability six months to construct,” he added. The works are currently in the defects liability period.
The drainage works are expected to cost $41 million but according to Girard the estimates submitted by LEAP were inflated. “One contractor said that when they finish the work about 30% of the money wasn’t spent so there is inflation of the bills basically, they put in more materials than was necessary, so they complain because they lose because they had to bring in materials, manpower and things like that,” Girard said regarding the works which are being done across Linden by different contractors.
The excess money from the project would have to be returned to the EU since the procedures do not permit the NAO Task Force or the Government of Guyana to use the sum for other purposes. Girard said too that even if the sides of the drains were to be raised as was suggested by the local authorities, it would not have been possible to utilize the same funds to do so because they have to adhere to the designs set by LEAP and approved by the EU.