Weather stalling Amaila Falls road – Motilall

Contractor for the Amaila Falls access road Fip Motilall said that the prevailing La Niña conditions have affected work on the project, which is less than 25 per cent complete.

Speaking to reporters yesterday after the launch of the Environmental Social and Impact Assessment (ESIA) for the Amaila Falls hydro-power project, Motilall said that if the weather was favourable the road would be passable by August.  “I’m working with an August [deadline] to get you four-wheel access. If the rain continues I’m not going to hit it. No way,” he said.

Motilall’s company Synergy Holdings Inc was awarded the US$15.4 million contract to build the access road to the proposed site for the Amaila Fall hydropower plant. Motilall has faced much scrutiny over his capacity to build the road.  He has since said he has road building experience in Florida and Georgia.

The contract awarded to Synergy is for “the upgrading of approximately 85 km of existing roadway, the design and construction of approximately 110 km of virgin roadway, the design and construction of two new pontoon crossings at the Essequibo and Kuribrong rivers.” The fourth part of the project is for the clearing of a pathway alongside the roadway to allow for the installation of approximately 65 km of transmission lines.

Fip Motilall

Government had stipulated an eight-month timeframe for the completion of the access roads. On October 5, the construction notice to proceed was issued to Synergy Holdings Inc, paving the way for it to start Sections 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 of the project. In January, the company was given the construction notice to proceed for Sections 6 and 7, which includes the parts of the project involving virgin forests.

The manner in which the construction notices had been issued also affected operations, Motilall said, since the plan was to start with the aspect of the project dealing with the virgin forests. The contractor said that he brought in a barge of equipment so as to prevent the demobilization of equipment that is already in use working on Sections 1 through 5. He said the 17 pieces of equipment were offloaded on Sunday.

Motilall said that so far he has only been paid for the work he has completed. “Government has not been funding this project. As I get done, I submit an invoice, Ministry of Public Works approves it, [and it] goes to the Ministry of Finance. I get paid,” he said.

Meanwhile, questioned about the road and how concerned it was by the delay, Sithe Global LLC Senior Vice President Rafael Herz noted that this construction was directly being managed by the government. He said the road is a critical part of the project and “having the road finalized on time and to the specifications required is important.

“In complex undertakings like this one, schedules change… there is some lag which can be accommodated by the project itself.” Noting the challenges posed by the weather, Herz said the key now was to have the road ready by the time there is financial closure. He expressed confidence that this will be achieved.

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