The Auditor General should investigate payments under the Synergy contract

Dear Editor,

The government’s Request for Proposals in early 2010 for the building of the access road to the Amaila Falls hydropower dam site called for an all-weather road for heavy traffic; 85 km of road rehabilitation; 110 km of new road; the whole 195 km of road, 20 metres wide, surfaced with a white-sand-clay base 300 mm thick topped by 150 mm of laterite, the whole compacted to 95 proctor; HDPE culverts, bridges and river-crossing pontoons capable of bearing 100 tonne loads, 20 tonnes per axle; 65 km x 100 metres wide completely cleared right-of-way for
the transmission line; all to be completed within eight months/240 days from contract effectiveness date.

At a news conference on March 23, 2011, the CEO of Synergy Holdings Inc said that “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” (‘Weather stalling Amaila Falls road – Motilall’ SN, March 23).

I queried such payment in my letter published by KN on March 24 (‘The road to Amaila Falls – trick or treat?’).  So, if I understand correctly, Synergy Holdings Inc is being paid as if it were completing the road to full specification while it is actually only building a track suitable for 4WD access.

Editor, could you ask the payment office of the Ministry of Finance, to clarify the story? No response has been published yet from the Ministry of Finance.

This is NICIL money, so derived ultimately from Guyana‘s taxpayers, not Norwegian taxpayers or Chinese bankers. My query was published by SN on May 6 (‘Gov’t had tendered for an all-weather road to Amaila not a muddy track’), but we have had no response from the Ministry of Finance.

Now we have confirmation from technical advisor Walter Willis (Ministry of Transport and Hydraulics) that the construction by Synergy has been to 5 metres, later 7 metres, of travel-way width, when 5 metres would not have been sufficient for 100-tonne loads and safe vehicle passing.

And Synergy has only completed 40 per cent of its contract ( ‘US$15.4M Amaila Falls project… Deadline extended to yearend,’ KN, September 17).

If Mr Motilall’s claim about payment was true, he would have been paid 40 per cent of the US$15.4 million total contract (= US$6.2 million) but apparently only US$2.9 million has been paid.

There is a strong smell about this entire construction project, from the extraordinary award of the contract to an entity apparently with no relevant qualifications or experience in road building, no capital and no equipment, onwards through the construction phase.  Editor, it is time for the Auditor General to conduct a thorough investigation and issue a full report.

Yours faithfully,
 Janette Bulkan

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