GGMC seeking bids again for rehab of $600M High St complex

Seeking a speedy relocation to its new headquarters, the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) is inviting bids for the rehabilitation of the $600M High Street facility that has never been occupied due to a range of defects in its construction.

GGMC Commissioner Rickford Vieira told Stabroek News that bids tendered will be evaluated at the end of the month.

GGMC had invited bids for rehabilitative works to the building in 2012 but nothing came of that process.

Vieira explained that the move to invite bids is prompted by the inconveniences posed to the agency’s operations at its current Brickdam offices. He said that GGMC has grown and its current lodgings are no longer capable of accommodating the agency’s staff complement. He also said that whenever it rains the building’s compound floods. The current location is also plagued by a sewage problem, he revealed.

Vieira says that GGMC is looking to have the new location finished as soon as possible. He said that the bids will be evaluated at the end of the month, after which works will start immediately so as to facilitate GGMC’s speedy relocation.

The advertisements did not indicate the value of the rehabilitation works as the sum will be determined by the bids tendered, but the development raises questions about why additional taxpayer’s dollars have to be injected into the multi-million-dollar High Street, Werk-en-Rust property.

The High Street location was built in 2008 at the cost of $600 million and has since been the source of much controversy. Although construction ceased, the building was never completed, and the existing structure is plagued by a myriad of defects.

A source had told Stabroek News that the building’s foundation contained sub-standard material and that the contractor, Kishan Bacchus Construction Company, had carried out works on the foundation and on the interior of the building that were in excess of contractual specifications.

It was also said that the ceiling of the building was improperly designed and as such the placement of air vents and roofing works would have resulted in limited vertical space and would need to be rectified. It should be noted, however, that Kishan Bacchus Construction Company only attained the contract after the initial contractor backed out of the project. It is unclear if anyone has ever been penalised for the work done.

After work on the building stalled, the compound was overrun by vegetation and residents of the area said drug users and the homeless had been lodging there. At the time of construction, the government had intended the building to house the Labour Ministry, whose offices were scattered throughout the city. The ministry was supposed to occupy the building by November 2008 but the deadline was missed and the building stayed unoccupied.

Years later, it was announced that the building would be occupied by the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA), which was supposed to take up residence in September of 2010. The GRA’s offices were also scattered around Georgetown, but the agency and its organs are now housed in the CLICO building on Camp Street. Eventually, in August of 2012, Natural Resources Minister Robert Persaud said the premises had been transferred to the GGMC.

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