A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) Member of Parliament Joseph Harmon believes that there was severe underestimation of the works to be done at the Amaila Falls road project and believes that the final cost of it could be as high as US$30 million.
Harmon was speaking at a press conference held at the Office of the Leader of the Opposition yesterday.
On Saturday, June 22, 2013, the Government of Guyana after several requests by the Opposition facilitated a visit to the road which will provide access to the planned Amaila Falls Hydropower project.
“The contractors have underestimated the scope and nature of the works to be done. The actual cost of this road I am quite sure is actually going to run us somewhere close to US$25 million or US$30 million,” he said.
Harmon said that the contract for section 7 of the road is US$8.5 million. “Before the contract was awarded to China Railway First Group, the contract was first awarded to Fip Motilall and that section 7, my understanding is that close to US$1.2 million was spent by him. The contract was then given to HN Pasha Engineering and my understanding is that close to US$1.5 million was spent on that section 7. Now it is given to China Railway and the contract sum is US$8.5 million. This means it is close to US$11 million spent on one section,” he said.
“The idea that the US$15.4 million which was to have been spent on this road by Synergy (Holdings) was clearly not going to be the figure that we are working with,” he said. He added that the contract with Synergy required the road to be built and the path for the transmission line cut.
“These contracts which have been awarded for the various sections do not require the contractors to cut any path for the transmission lines. That is going to be dealt with by Sithe Global, the [hydro developer],” Harmon said.
“So if you were to look at what actually was spent and what are the new contract sums, you will recognise that we are somewhere close to about US$22 million or more and counting. Because the Kuribrong bridge is close to US$2 million. Section 2 which is now being done by the Ministry of Works, my understanding is that they will be contracting out some of that work. So are going to have an additional sum of money being needed to complete section 2. So as of now I don’t believe we have an accurate figure as to what this road is going to cost,” Harmon said.
“We were given to understand that the completion of the access road was a major benchmark for the hydro project, which is the subject of two critical assessments now: One an IDB due diligence assessment whose recommendations have to be made to the Board of the IDB at a meeting [later this year]; and two the satisfaction of certain conditionalities established by the institutions in China that will be financing a part of the project.
“Of the sections of the road seen we are of the view that major challenges are presented in sections 2 and 7. Other challenges include the high frequency of rainfall at project locations which affect the progress of work; the insufficiency of plant and equipment to accelerate the work during periods of good weather and three, that the contractors so far have generally underestimated the scale and scope and volume of work on the road,” he said.
He said that the fulfilling of certain environmental requirements and the many streams and waterways that would have to be bridged would also present challenges, “particularly in section 7 where there are about 58 such crossings for which bridges would have to be built.”
“The latest timeline given for the completion of the road is December 30, 2013. From our limited view however we feel that it is going to be a very difficult assignment. We do not believe that this is a timeline that would be met,” said Harmon.
“This engagement in our view is a good beginning for what we hope would be the standard for openness for the provision of timely and critical information related to projects which affect this nation,” said Harmon.
In March 2010, Synergy Holdings was awarded a contract to upgrade approximately 85 km of existing roadway, the design and construction of approximately 110 km of virgin roadway, the design and construction of two new pontoon crossings at the Essequibo and Kuribrong rivers. The deadline for the completion of the project was September 2011.
Synergy got the contract despite not being able to sufficiently demonstrate road construction abilities. The tenure was plagued with delays from the beginning leading to government’s termination of the contract on January 12, 2012.
Section 2 of the road is being done by the Ministry of Public Works while sections three and four are being completed by Toolsie Persaud Quarries. Ivor Allen was awarded a contract to work on section five of the road, G Bovell had been awarded section six and HN Pasha was awarded section seven but has since been relieved of it.
Despite the severe criticism meted out to government and Synergy’s principal Fip Motilall following the award of the contract in the early months of 2010, government had defended the process as being transparent. It had said that out of the five or so bids received, Motilall’s was the most favourable.
In January 2012, government announced that it had terminated the US$15.4 million contract that had been awarded to Motilall for his failure to meet deadlines. Prime Minister Sam Hinds said on national television that Motilall was paid only for work he had completed. Efforts to ascertain exactly how much of the original sum has been spent proved futile.