Evaluation of new Demerara bridge tenders more complicated than expected – Adams

Rawlston Adams

The evaluation of tenders for the new Demerara River bridge has proven more complex than planned, according to project manager Rawlston Adams, who says the deadline for the completion of the process has been extended.

“We started the evaluation and the evaluation committee has met but what we realised is that the amount of information that has to be assessed and evaluated needs a lot of clarification from bidders,” Adams told Sunday Stabroek, when contacted for an update last Thursday. “One of the other things is we need additional resources to the team, to boost its capacity to evaluate the financials. This is something we are addressing,” he added.

During the Ministry of Public Infrastructure’s end of year review last month, Adams had said that the evaluation of the bids to finance, design, build and maintain the new Demerara Harbour bridge would have been completed by the end of January.

He had said then that the evaluation process had started and that the 11 Expressions of Interest (EOIs) received were still in the evaluation stage.

“Once we get out of that stage, we will present our report to the government and will be advised on how to go forward on that project,” he had stated

“The team has been assembled and is a very diverse team…. It’s a lot of financial proposals and you have to have the necessary expertise and advice to go on and go through and compare because you are looking at a large number of proposals. So we are hoping to complete by the end of January,” Adams said.

Further, he explained that the evaluation team consisted of an engineer, legal and financial representatives, and personnel from the Ministry of Finance and that they were also “free to call on other technical resources as needed.”

Given the committee’s need for more expertise, Adams said the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board would soon be engaged to help “incorporate additional resources.”

He underscored the detailed evaluation needed, given the magnitude of the project. “It is not a run of the mill project,” he noted.

Adams said that some companies seemed to “have interpreted the conditions and requirements of the contract differently,” which was reflected in their bids, while some offered “alternatives and or additives” in their respective tenders.

“This can’t be rushed because you have here a design/build option. We give them the employer’s requirement, as I mentioned earlier to you, but everybody coming with their interpretations and offering alternatives,” he further said, before adding that this has complicated the evaluation process.

On November 21st last, 11 companies submitted bids, with Chinese companies dominating the bidding.

The Ministry of Public Infrastructure has said that from this list three will be shortlisted and requested to submit designs and offer a fixed-price lump sum bid for the bridge and approach roads.

Adams had explained that the shortlisting of three companies will come after the evaluation of the general pool. The evaluation process can take up to six weeks and could be further extended in some cases to facilitate due diligence.

In the advertisement for the prequalification of contractors, the Ministry of Public Infrastructure had explained the project details. “The Government of Guyana through the Ministry of Public Infrastructure plans to construct a new bridge across the Demerara River. The selected location is approximately 2 kilometers north of the existing floating bridge, and the new bridge will span from Houston on the eastern bank of the Demerara River to Versailles on the western bank of the Demerara River. The new bridge will be an essential part of the road network and will also have a significant impact on marine traffic passing under the bridge,” the advertisement stated.

“The project comprises of the construction of an approximately 1500m long fixed bridge with a movable span and two approach roads of a total length of 600m. It is envisaged that the project will commence in 2018 and will be delivered in 2020. The employer has conducted a feasibility study including initial surveys, and will provide in the tender the complete basic design as a reference design,” it added.

In terms of funding, Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson noted that provisions for the project were left out of the 2018 national budget since they have not determined what option will be used to finance construction.

“…When the determination is made, we are sure we will approach parliament for supplementary allocations. It is my hope that we won’t have to approach parliament. However, in the event we do, we are assured that will be done,” he said.

Government anticipates that the project will be started this year and be completed by 2020.