A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) Shadow Minister of Public Works, Joe Harmon yesterday expressed shock at the staggering increase in the cost for the Amaila Access Road from US$15.4M to US$41.M.
He says that he believes that before the road is completed the cost will again increase due to mismanagement but believes that from the outset the figures were downplayed by government for fear of rejection of the project.
Minister of Transport Robeson Benn recently told Stabroek News in an interview that pending weather conditions the road will be completed in about two months for a total of US$41.7 million.
The original contract to the controversial businessman Fip Motilall was for US$15.4M. His contract was terminated in January 2012 and several other contractors hired. Critics have said the fluctuating cost of this road and the hydropower project it is intended to lead to, underlined valid concerns about whether there was adequate planning and prudent decisions. The hydropower project had to be shelved after the opposition withheld approval.
“Now this is one road, not like the road got longer. It is one road! From fifteen million to now forty something is something he (Benn) should be ashamed to read out that figure…it is unacceptable,” Harmon told Stabroek News.
He said that after the first assessment his party conducted on the road he knew that the US$15.4M sum would not be enough but said that the current figure came about through poor management and planning.
“They are hoodwinking the Guyanese public giving one figure and then that sum starts to creep and creep from US$15M until it get to 41. I do not have any faith in their estimates because last year around this time they said that the road would be completed soon and gave one figure, now look,“ he said.
“It is mismanagement, poor planning on the part of the ministry and it is the same thing that happened then and is happening now… What is emerging here is a pattern in which for these large projects they give a small figure to lure you in to say approve and then they add but they knew from the inception but thought that if they had given it from the beginning you would have decided it was too much and not go ahead with it,” he added.
He pointed out that the price also went up because certain elements of the construction works were not featured in the original contract. “All along we have said that we were basically being gouged. Certain elements of the road of itself never featured in the original contract so there will be increased variations,” Harmon posited.
The APNU Shadow Minister of Public Works stated that on the first visit to the road it was noted by their engineers that the cost for the Kuribrong Crossing was not factored into the project and “an excuse was given that government at the time did not have the figure,” he said.
“Because of certain parts of that terrain, that was solid rock, we knew that the cost of the road was not an accurate figure because that aspect was not included and that was costly …you would have to blast rocks for miles to get to where they were proposing and that requires dynamite …. and that I can tell you is a very expensive task .
Benn has said that Government will continue with the upkeep of the Amaila Falls Access Road since it believes it is the link to the single most important infrastructural project needed for Guyana’s economic development – the Amaila Falls Hydroelectricity Project which it is working to make a reality.