As the road to the Amaila Falls project continues to lag behind schedule, the original contract sum of US$15.4 million that went to Fip Motilall’s Synergy Holdings Inc is quickly being surpassed by the additional expenditure the government must outlay to complete the project, with one estimate going as high as US$40 million.
Meanwhile Motilall said recently that US$15.4M was sufficient for him to have completed the road.
Motilall is defending his company’s efforts on the road, saying that not much has happened from the time government removed the contract from him in January of last year.
“We cleared Section 7… we resurveyed and realigned it,” he said. “We cleared an ATV trail. My excavators are within five miles of the hydro site,” said Motilall. “We built temporary bridges to allow equipment to cross [the many waterways],” he said.
Asked whether his lowest bid of US$15.5 was an under-estimate, Motilall said no. “I don’t think it was an under-estimation…I never came back to the government for an increase. I would not have made a lot on the project but I would not have lost either. The US$15.4 million was enough,” he said.
Motilall said that design specification changes on the project contributed to the delays encountered. “When they changed the compaction rates it caused delays. I had estimated our completion time to be April 2012. We were just about ready to start putting laterite on the road,” said Motilall.
He said that his company left a little over 50 per cent of the work completed on the road. However, he said that a year-and-a-half later, that work has inched up to just around 65 per cent. “The government made a major error in taking the contract from us,” he said. “Here we are a year-and-a-half later asking for more time,” he said, referring to the yet to be completed works being executed.
Minister of Works Robeson Benn is on record as saying that the road project, on which the larger hydro-electric project is dependent, may not meet the year-end deadline.
One contractor who preferred not to be named said that the final cost of the project could be as high as US$40 million, since it was clear that everyone underestimated the scope of the works to be undertaken, especially in Sections 2 and 7. Furthermore, he blamed as well unsuitable equipment used by Synergy to execute the works for the difficulties in which that company found itself.
Speaking to Stabroek News, a senior official of the Ministry of Works said that there was a committee that evaluated all of the bids and the award was not only based on the lowest price but on a careful evaluation of other factors such as expertise to carry out the works, equipment and access to financing.
“Bids were advertised, persons bought documents and those were submitted. A committee was set up by the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board (NPTAB) made the evaluation. They made the evaluation not only on the basis of Synergy being the lowest bidder but also on the administrative requirement of being a legal entity, having formal experience in similar works, having access to equipment and having access to credit,” said the staffer from the Works Ministry.
Joe Harmon, Member of Parliament of A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) said that he believes that the final cost for the road will reach between US$25 million and US$30 million, given the various contractors that took over parts of the project and because of the ongoing difficulties they too are experiencing.
While 17 firms had registered interest in the project, only four – including Synergy – had submitted proposals. These were a consortium comprising B&J Civil Works, Ivor Allen & Dynamic Engineering Co Ltd which submitted a bid of US$16.6 million; BK International Inc, US$21 million; and Roopan Ramotar, US$$26 million.
Following public criticisms soon after the award of the contract to Synergy, the government defended the it, saying that the firm submitted the most viable and lowest-priced proposal among bidders.
According to the Finance Ministry in 2010, Synergy’s proposal was assessed as being the most compliant, viable and lowest-priced one with the components of the proposal “showing a clear understanding of the project scope and a comprehensive work plan of the activities in order to achieve the deadline of eight months.”
Another factor that influenced government’s decision to award Synergy the contract is that its proposal included the construction of a permanent steel superstructure across the Kuribrong River, as opposed to a multi-cell pontoon crossing proposed by the other bidders.