In an article which appeared in KN on April 21 on the above captioned subject, Dr. Roger Luncheon, Head of the Presidential Secretariat stated that the Amaila Falls Road project was ‘hopelessly behind schedule’ which in reality is an admission of failure by Contractor Motilall to perform in a timely manner. He further stated that the Government of Guyana (GoG) would ‘suggest and even demand that components of the contract be sub-contracted’ to speed-up construction and thus enable the project to be completed on time.
In large contracts as this one, the prime contractor usually does not have all the necessary skills in-house to complete the project and sub-contracting is a norm. In some jurisdictions sub-contractors have to be registered and approved by the Client.
Often than not it is left to the contractor to chose his subs and/or increase/ decrease his work force as is necessary to keep construction progress on track. Therefore Mr. Motilall as an experienced contractor as GoG claims he is, needs no suggestion nor can GoG demand that he sub-contract the works for catch-up and a speedy project completion unless certain contractual obligations are followed.
It is evident that Dr. Luncheon is in a delusionary mood hoping to brow beat the Contractor to execute the contract according to the fuzzy imagination of Mr. Walter Willis, GoG’s Consultant and the official who only a few weeks ago stated there were no project delays only lost days due to GoG ineptitude and these will be given back to the Contractor. Dr. Luncheon should be careful that his hasty actions do not invalidate the terms and conditions of the contract agreement as this could negate any effort to recover liquidating and other damages from the contractor for failure to perform as was the case with the Supenaam Stelling where those responsible were let off the hook because of GoG bungling.
In its crises mode GoG should have written the Contractor outlining the slippages and request that he comes up with a viable plan for approval by GoG to get the project back on track. All said and done there appears to be only two options available to the contractor to accelerate construction and recover lost time unless he is given additional time for adverse weather conditions which in any case he should have anticipated when he tendered and provision made accordingly in his bid.
Firstly, he could increase his workforce and double-up on the equipment used and secondly increase the daily/ weekly working hours of his workforce. I believe he is at liberty to employ as many sub-contractors as he needs but managing a large and complex labour force to get things done at this critical juncture of project execution within a given time frame may be beyond Mr. Motilall’s grasp as his track record would suggest.
Finally, GoG should ascertain that the partial payments made to Mr. Motilall is for actual work done and there are no over-payments so that if ‘push comes to shove’ and he walks off the job the Bond Holder has enough funds to complete the project and GoG could also recover liquidated and other damages as per the terms and conditions of the Contract.
GoG should also examine the performance of those responsible for project execution and uncover their lapses in supervision and real time reporting as GoG was not informed in a timely manner of the slippages when remedial actions could have been taken much earlier thus avoiding a critical situation which is likely to cost GoG dearly.