Residents of Leonora on the West Coast Demerara (WCD) have expressed surprise at the $3.9 million cost to repair a bridge which leads to the primary school in the area.
The bridge, which was completed yesterday, has replaced an older structure which deteriorated over the past several years. The new structure, which was built by one Parmanan Kushial to whom the contract was awarded by the Region Three administration, was built on the older piles from the previous structure.
The bulk of the cost was expended on revetment works which added up to more than $2 million, according to the bill of quantity, which was seen by this newspaper.
PNC/R Region Three official Mervyn Williams told Stabroek News that the project was one of several undertaken within the past several weeks, which reeked of corruption in the Region Three administration.
Efforts yesterday by this newspaper to obtain a comment from regional officials, including Regional Chairman, Julius Faerber, were futile.
According to residents in the area, the bridge began to deteriorate several months ago and parents had indicated to the school that the infrastructure needed to be repaired. A parent told this newspaper yesterday that the works were undertaken “about a month ago jus after de election date announce”. She said she was surprised by the cost to construct the bridge. “The rail… that only weld on today and that kinda work cheap to do,” the parent said.
This newspaper visited the area yesterday and observed that several piles under the 12 feet wide by 30 feet long bridge, which were not connected to the structure while some were rotting.
Williams said yesterday that the entire project as well as several others recently undertaken in the region “was carried out in breach of the law”. He said the contract which was awarded to Kushial, was in excess of the $600,000 ceiling at which point such are expected to be put up for public tendering.
He explained that the regional administration can award contracts above $100,000 but below the $600,000 figure. He added that whenever there is work that would be in excess of the latter figure the project should have be publicly advertised via tender and the bid which is closest to the engineer’s estimate is awarded the contract.
Williams said Kushial the contract was among many which were awarded to that particular region very close to the elections.
He said other projects in the region which were undertaken in the weeks leading up to the elections, “were awarded to the same set of people who have been getting them all the time”. He said too evidence exists which indicates that the contractors were under-qualified; “You have some who do not have experience in construction; they have been previously given contracts for drainage and irrigation in Region Three.”
He also noted that recently the San Souci Primary School at Wakenaam was extended at a cost of some $6.5 million which was paid to the contractor in installments. He said that on completion of the work as specified, it was realised that the roof of the building was too low. He said that another contract, for $2.9 million was awarded by the Regional Executive Officer (REO) to remedy the engineer’s error.
He said it was unreasonable for an engineer to make a design error of any amount and “tax-payers have to find the cost accumulated”.