Reference is made to a letter published in the Thursday, December 14, 2017 edition of Stabroek News, under the headline, `Demerara River Bridge, Ministry of Citizenship digitising of records among projects that raise serious concerns’, and written by Opposition MP, Juan Edghill.
The Ministry wishes to respond to claims made by Mr. Edghill which target two projects under our responsibility: the new Demerara River Bridge and the Cheddi Jagan International Airport expansion.
On the matter of the CJIA Expansion, the Ministry wishes to affirm the position that the retention is a form of safeguard; as the contractor works and valuations are submitted, 10 percent of each invoice is retained, to a maximum value of 5 percent of the contract sum. This 5 percent is held by the Government until the end of the defects and liability period, after which it is disbursed following the satisfactory completion and performance over this period. For this project, the defects and liability period is one year. It must also be noted that the monies will only be released once independent consultants have certified, following the defects and liability period, that any possible defects that may arise are rectified. This retention is just one safeguard being undertaken by the Government of Guyana to ensure value for money and the successful completion of this project.
Indeed, the scope of the original project has been reworked; however, this is public information. Additionally, the scope was reworked after unforeseen physical conditions were experienced, such as excessive depth and low quality of the soil to the Northeast of the runway.
The rectification of this issue received top priority and therefore required the reallocation of funds from one scope of the contract sum to another. This saw funds being moved from building works – which would include the new terminal building and accompanying bridges – to runway works. While bridges can subsequently be bought and added, foundation works cannot be delayed. This is simple logic.
Mr. Edghill is incorrect in his claim that there will be no new terminal building. As part of this project, the airport will benefit from a new arrivals terminal building as well as a renovated departures terminal building. The existing building previously housed both arrivals and departures but will now simply be rehabilitated to house departures only. These two buildings will be connected and square footage will be higher than that of the original contract; the original contract was 14,347 sq. m while the final scope will be 14,430 sq. m.
Additionally, the airport will also benefit from the additional facility constructed for the temporary arrivals terminal, at no additional cost as its construction was part of the work plan of the contractor. This facility can now be used as a cargo facility, warehouse or as an office for ground handling concession. It must be noted that the project cost remains the same, even as the airport benefits from a larger terminal building.
Meanwhile, the Ministry wishes to emphasise that the only “controversy” surrounding the award of the consultancy for the feasibility study of the new Demerara River Bridge is that which has been concocted by Mr. Edghill himself and the PPP/C as a whole. In fact, on September 21, 2017, the Ministry issued a statement – in response to false allegations levelled by Edghill’s colleague, MP Gail Teixeira – outlining the entire process that led to the award of the Feasibility Study and Design for the new Demerara River Crossing, including the number of bid submissions and approval granted by the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board (NPTAB).
When it comes to land acquisition, the determination of its accompanying costs rests with the Lands and Surveys Department. To date, an order has been issued by the Department for land acquisition and a survey will be executed to determine the exact land required. From there, the Valuation Department of the Ministry of Finance will recommend market values to be paid. It must be noted that, once again, this information was publicly relayed to the nation through the public advertising of the order in October. Ministry officials also met with residents who may be affected by land acquisition and all relevant information, including the way forward and the residents’ legal rights, were relayed to them.
Mr. Edghill is urged to check the records before making wild accusations.
Furthermore, bids were received from international firms containing various levels of financing options; after the review and assessment of the most suitable model, the National Assembly will be approached for the required financing.
Finally, the Ministry has – time and time again – shared all of this information publicly; we never have, at any moment, attempted to obfuscate or withhold any information which we were permitted to share. The public discussions have always been present and we are more than willing to let them continue.
David Patterson, MP
Minister of Public Infrastructure