Synergy Holdings will no longer be responsible for constructing the remaining timber bridges which were originally part of the Amaila Falls access road project and the sum budgeted will be deducted from the US$15.4 million contract, government engineer Walter Willis says.
Willis, the senior government engineer overseeing the project, told Stabroek News that this is part of an effort to speed up the project. Synergy, Willis said, has so far completed about 30 per cent of the work, but noted that the weather has not been favourable to the contractors. “There is slippage because of bad weather,” Willis said, adding that at present the high water in the Essequibo River has stopped work at Butakari where Synergy is supposed to build a pontoon terminal.
Meanwhile, on Friday President Bharrat Jagdeo said that while there might be some slippage in the project, he does not expect it to significantly affect financial closure for the hydropower plant. “I still think that we may have some slippage… I’ve made it clear to the people who are supervising this, they have to ride the company hard and they have to ensure that the quality is not compromised,” he said; “Unfortunately what we have had, is apart from the delay for which he is responsible, Synergy is responsible for, we’ve had this compounded by the unseasonal rainfall, but I don’t think that it will significantly affect financial closure.”
Questioned yesterday about how the supervisors were “riding” Synergy, Willis said that they were ensuring that the company complies with design criteria and that all the specifications are met. The supervisors are also insisting that Synergy President Fip Motilall hires “skilled men to do the work.”
Willis said that if they do anything outside of these measures it could be interpreted that they are “interfering with his [Motilall’s] means and ways,” which could be grounds for a legal challenge later on.
Synergy has faced intense scrutiny about its road-building capacity after it won the contract last year for “the upgrading of approximately 85 km of existing roadway, the design and construction of approximately 110 km of virgin roadway, and the design and construction of two new pontoon crossings at the Essequibo and Kuribrong rivers. The company was also to clear the pathway alongside the roadways to allow for the installation of approximately 65 km of transmission lines.
The Public Works Ministry granted Synergy the construction notice to proceed for Sections 1 to 5 on October 5, last year. The construction notice to proceed for Sections 6 and 7 was granted in January. Previously, Willis had told this newspaper that since the second notice was belatedly issued, the contractor was given back his time. The project has an 8-month time frame.
A few months ago, government expressed concern about the delay in the project and had recommended that Motilall subcontract aspects of the project The completion of the access road is seen as critical for financial closure to be secured for the construction of the actual hydropower plant. The project is being developed by US company Sithe Global, which is currently negotiating with China Railway, the firm constructing the hydropower plant, over the final project cost.
The Amaila Falls hydropower is a 165MW facility proposed to be constructed immediately upstream from the confluence of the Amaila and Kuribrong rivers. The Guyana Power and Light (GPL) is supposed to purchase the project’s entire output of approximately 143 MW of delivered capacity under a 20-year Power Purchase Agreement.