In a letter published by SN on September 20 (‘The Auditor General should investigate payments under the Synergy contract’), Ms Bulkan was of the opinion that payments for construction of the access road to the Amaila Falls seems to be out of whack and that the Auditor General should conduct an investigation before taxpayers are once again burdened with the cost of a non-performing project.
I would suggest that we have not reached that juncture yet for several reasons. The contractor’s bid was based on the pricing for bills of quantities for a project with a given design and specification.
Partial payments with retainage should have been made to the contractor at intervals agreed upon for tendered items based on the bills of quantities and estimated completed work at that time.
The Government of Guyana (GoG) through its Ministry of Works has appointed an engineering firm to act on its behalf and to be responsible for total project time and cost control and coordination as well as quality control, and as such provides supervision and control and certain contract administration functions such as the contractor’s payment requests, review of shop drawings, evaluation of contractor claims, interpretation of plans and specifications during construction, change order requests and final inspection.
The troubling question is whether the appointed engineering firm has been performing its professional duties in accordance with its contractual obligations. Several performance issues regarding contract execution have given cause for concern.
Ms Bulkan has highlighted many including time extension, discrepancies between work completed and payments made and issuance of change orders such as increasing the width of the road from 5 metres, to 7 metres.
The project completion time was 240 days and at the end of that time the project was about 40% completed (according to GoG Technical Advisor). It was reported that the contractor was given a 4 months extension time. Delays are prevalent on construction projects, but this contractor seems to have submitted a number of causes for non-excusable delays of its own and got away with it, therefore taxpayers would wish to be informed how the time extension of 4 months was evaluated to absolve the contractor from paying liquidating damages. Further the evidence suggests that the contract will not be completed by the end of the year. Will the contractor be given a further time extension and have GoG absorb the losses for a non-performing road? Keep posted.