East Coast highway expansion works could start by month end

The expansion of the East Coast highway is likely to resume before the end of this month, according to Coordinator of the Work Service Group at the Ministry of Public Infrastructure Geoffrey Vaughn.

Speaking on Wednesday at the ministry’s annual review, Vaughn said, “Hopefully in late January we will be able to actually commence works on the East Coast Expansion Project.”

Minister of Public Infrastructure David Patterson had also related that because of “unfortunate circumstances that the ministry had no control over” projects that were being funded by international organizations were not able to commence in 2016.

However, all of the hiccups are expected to be worked out by the end of January for the expansion and also the building of the road bypass at Diamond.

Stabroek News had reported in May 2014 that Chinese firms were vying for the contract for the new phase of the East Coast Expansion Project, which was supposed to be completed through a US$57 million loan from China.

At that time, the four-lane expansion slated for Better Hope to Belfield had been divided into six lots.

Lot One, Better Hope to Triumph, after the Montrose to Triumph section of the work (once referred to as Lot One    and contracted to Falcon Engineering Services for $468 million) was joined to the Better Hope to Triumph section (once referred to Lot Two) was being done by Dipcon Engineering Services Limited.

Falcon had lost the contract after the then government found that the contracting firm was behind schedule and was allegedly carrying out inferior work.

An additional $463 million had to be doled out by government for Dipcon to repair the reportedly substandard work done by Falcon, and complete the section of road. Falcon had filed suit against the then Works Ministry for money which it claimed it was owed. The matter is still before the court.

Dipcon also had the $328 million contract for Lot Five, which stretched from Triumph to Mon Repos. At that point work on that Lot was said to be 80% complete. Back then too Manager of the Public Works Ministry’s Roads and Bridges Department Ron Rahaman had said that work was not moving as quickly as it could because the contractor continued to encounter issues sourcing aggregate. Dipcon is now in receivership and its assets will be liquidated.

Lot Three, which stretched from La Bonne Intention to Beterverwagting (BV) was contracted to Courtney Benn Contracting Services and was valued $349 million. This section was said to be 20% complete. Lot Four, which stretched from BV to Triumph, was awarded to Compustruct Contracting Services and was valued at $322 million; this section was also about 20% complete.

Meanwhile, Lot Six, from Mon Repos to De Endragt, which was awarded to Colin Talbott Contracting Services for $345 million, had been completed.

The government subsequently signed a framework agreement with the People’s Republic of China for a US$45.5 million concessional loan in November. The contract was awarded to China Railway First Group Company Limited. It is expected to be completed 18 months after it starts. The US$45,561,000 (314,000,000 yuan/$9,440,366,003) loan is expected to be repaid in 20 years, after a five-year grace period.

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