Fixing bungled Supenaam stelling will cost some $50M

– no one party to blame, Luncheon says

Cabinet Secretary Dr Roger Luncheon says some $40 million to $50 million will have to be spent to fix the bungled work at the Supenaam stelling in order for it to accommodate the ferry the government is to receive from China.

He told Stabroek News that this figure was from an estimate provided to correct the flaws at the stelling which cost some $450 million to construct. Construction firm BK International and the Ministry of Public Works had  blamed each other for the problems with the stelling following the collapse of the end beam of its loading ramp. According to BK International head Brian Tiwari, it was the ministry’s modifications to the stelling that “messed up” the structure. The company said it had completed the project to the exact design and specifications as requested.

Asked yesterday if anyone was going to be held criminally or financially accountable, Luncheon said such a move would have to follow some legal intervention and he was not sure they had reached that stage. He noted that Prime Minister Sam Hinds had been tasked with gathering the stakeholders involved in the design, supervision and construction of the stelling to examine their roles. The Cabinet Secretary reiterated an earlier point that no one party was to blame.

“No one hand could be judged to be clean. Indeed the design had flaws, construction had flaws and supervision had flaws. What I did say is that this is not the time to just point fingers and allocate blame; we have to fix that stelling in anticipation of the arrival of the Chinese(roll on roll off) ferry,” he said.

The Works Ministry has denied that it was to be blamed for the state of the stelling and said it was the Transport and Harbours Department that took over a facility “which was inadequate to handle the typical flotation as well as the arrangement to get onto the vessel for the heavy truck traffic from the Essequibo”.

Minister of Transport Robeson Benn stated that the Ministry of Local Government supervised the construction of the Pomeroon/Supenaam ferry stelling and later issued a certificate of completion to BK International even though the completed project had obvious defects.
The ferry stelling, now inoperable because of structural problems, was completed to the tune of $431 million of contract approved funds; an additional $17.2 million was expended by the Ministry of Public Works in modification works, Benn had said.

The modifications included a drawbridge and a pontoon, both of which Benn said were “absolutely necessary” because the ministry took over the stelling “with great concerns.”