Jagdeo queries land, tolls for new De­mer­ara River bridge

The govern­ment is yet to se­lect its nominees for the Lo­cal Govern­ment Com­mis­sion. Why?

Stabroek News - - FRONT PAGE -

With Govern­ment an­nounc­ing that con­struc­tion of the new De­mer­ara Har­bour Bridge will be­gin next year, sev­eral con­cerns need to be ur­gently ad­dressed and more specif­i­cally as it re­lates to fund­ing and land ac­qui­si­tion, Op­po­si­tion Leader Bhar­rat Jagdeo yes­ter­day said.

“There are ques­tions to an­swered and pub­licly… will there be sub­sidy to cush­ion the tolls, what will be the tolls, what about sup­port­ing in­fra­struc­ture, guar­an­tee for debt?” Jagdeo ques­tioned.

Com­par­ing the pre­sen­ta­tions by the Dutch com­pany Lievense CSO Con­sul­tants, which car­ried out the fea­si­bil­ity study and de­sign for the new bridge, Jagdeo pro­duced a dossier of in­for­ma­tion on the Ber­bice Bridge as he un­der­lined his ar­gu­ment that more in­for­ma­tion is needed on the project be­fore the govern­ment goes ahead.

“The govern­ment needs to tell us now how much money they would put into this project and where it would come from,” Jagdeo said as he noted that es­ti­mates for the project are be­tween US$150US$180M.

The Op­po­si­tion Leader also ques­tioned the cir­cum­stances sur­round­ing the choice of the lo­ca­tion, Hous­ton to Ver­sailles, while al­leg­ing that for­mer Peo­ple’s Na­tional Congress Re­form ex­ec­u­tive and busi­ness­man, Stan­ley Ming owns most of the land on the West Bank of De­mer­ara that govern­ment will have to pur­chase.

Asked if he had ev­i­dence that Ming was the owner of the prop­erty to be bought by govern­ment Jagdeo an­swered in the af­fir­ma­tive.

“Mr. Stan­ley Ming made a pre­sen­ta­tion in 2015 named ‘Guyana 2030’. He was a mem­ber of APNU…in his plan he had two bridges to be built across the De­mer­ara River; one fur­ther up and one at Hous­ton-Ver­sailles. So mirac­u­lously now this fea­si­bil­ity study finds that lo­ca­tion the most fea­si­ble,” Jagdeo said.

“Guess who’s land on the Ver­sailles side (that) the bridge ter­mi­nates, Mis­ter Stan­ley Ming, so this is an­other mir­a­cle,” he added.

Stabroek News at­tempted to con­tact Ming for com­ment but calls to his phone went unan­swered.

The pro­posed bridge is ex­pected to be ap­prox­i­mately 2 kilo­me­tres north of the ex­ist­ing float­ing bridge, span­ning Hous­ton on the eastern bank of the De­mer­ara River to Ver­sailles on the western bank of the De­mer­ara River. The project will see the con­struc­tion of an ap­prox­i­mately 1,500m 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.

Three locations were iden­ti­fied back in 2013 for the pro­posed bridge and four more align­ments were sub­se­quently con­sid­ered. A prefea­si­bil­ity study was done and all the op­tions re­mained.

But Jagdeo says that while the Hous­ton Ver­sailles lo­ca­tion was touted, for­mer Min­is­ter of Pub­lic Works Robe­son Benn says that the main op­tion was decom­mis­sion­ing the old bridge and re­build­ing right at the site. It is un­clear what govern­ment will do with the old bridge when the new one is built.

The Min­istry of Pub­lic In­fra­struc­ture last month an­nounced that it will be soon em­bark­ing on the process of pre-qual­i­fy­ing con­trac­tors for the con­struc­tion of a new De­mer­ara River Bridge.

Ac­cord­ing to a state­ment is­sued by the min­istry, con­trac­tors will be pre-qual­i­fied for the fi­nance, de­sign, build­ing, and main­te­nance com­po­nents of the new bridge.

It said th­ese works will be pro­cured through pub­lic ten­der­ing, with a re­stricted num­ber of bid­ders.

“The pro­cure­ment process will be a twophase one: the cur­rent prequalification phase and the bid­ding phase. In the prequalification phase, three con­trac­tors will be short­listed and re­quested to sub­mit de­signs and of­fer a fixed price lump sum bid for the de­sign and con­struc­tion of the bridge and ap­proach roads,” it ex­plained.

It added that the short­list­ing of the bid­ders shall be on the ba­sis of the pro­file, track record, and fi­nan­cial ca­pac­ity of the ap­pli­cants as well as on the merit of the tech­ni­cal, cost and fi­nanc­ing pro­pos­als pre­sented by ap­pli­cants in their pre-qual­i­fi­ca­tion doc­u­ment.

Fur­ther­more, in or­der to im­prove the fund­ing pack­age, it said that ap­pli­cants for short­list­ing are re­quested to ad­vance pro­pos­als for fi­nanc­ing the project.

Non-dis­clo­sure

The ad also stated if a com­pany re­quired the at­tach­ments to the prequalification doc­u­ment it would need to be specif­i­cally re­quested by send­ing a for­mal writ­ten re­quest, in­clud­ing the back­ground of the com­pany and the signed non-dis­clo­sure agree­ment.

The non-dis­clo­sure as­pect of the re­quire­ments has irked Jagdeo who yes­ter­day laced into the APNU+AFC govern­ment say­ing that for a party that cham­pi­oned trans­parency, hav­ing com­pa­nies sign to keep­ing the con­tract se­cret was hyp­o­crit­i­cal.

Min­is­ter of Pub­lic In­fra­struc­ture, David Pat­ter­son came in for crit­i­cism since Jagdeo said he (Pat­ter­son) had only days be­fore the ad­ver­tise­ment promised trans­parency for all projects his govern­ment un­der­takes.

“On Au­gust 21st he says this is a fea­ture of the PPP; that ev­ery­thing done un­der the PPP (is with­held) and they would never do it and then on the 10th of Septem­ber … a bid comes out and it speaks about a non-dis­clo­sure agree­ment that the con­trac­tors would have to sign. The du­plic­ity of the APNU+AFC govern­ment I am telling you,” Jagdeo lamented.

“They have gone quiet on the rea­sons they gave for the non-dis­clo­sure on the oil and gas agree­ment af­ter we ex­posed that we did not pass any amend­ment to the law pre­vent­ing any dis­clo­sure of the con­tract which they were us­ing as an ex­cuse for not re­leas­ing that con­tract,” he added as he also noted that to date the con­tract signed

with ExxonMo­bil was not pub­lic.

He said that Pat­ter­son was keep­ing se­cret many as­pects of the bridge project and is not an­swer­ing ques­tions noted dur­ing the Lievense pre­sen­ta­tion as it pertains to fi­nanc­ing and debt bur­den to Guyana’s cit­i­zenry.

He warned that given a US$150M es­ti­mated cost for the con­struc­tion of the bridge it could turn out to be a bur­den to tax­pay­ers long into the fu­ture since he be­lieves it would take at least ten years be­fore the bridge turns a profit. This is be­cause the con­sul­tant’s re­port as­sumes con­di­tions that the tolls will re­main the same. “If we go ahead with this project, it will be a cor­rupt project and it will sad­dle us with debt long into the fu­ture,” he charged.

The re­port, he says, states that de­ci­sions to be taken and choices to be made would have to fo­cus on govern­ment’s in­volve­ment; how much, in what form, from, which pe­riod of the project life and fi­nanc­ing. Be­he­moth Stabroek News reached out to Pat­ter­son yes­ter­day but was told by the min­istry’s pub­lic re­la­tions of­fi­cer, De­silon Daniels, that he was tied up in bud­get con­sul­ta­tion meet­ings.

How­ever, she pointed to a video the min­istry has on its web­site and Face­book page that an­swers ques­tions on the bridge project.

In that video, the min­istry boasts that con­struc­tion of the new De­mer­ara River Bridge and con­nect­ing roads is ex­pected to be a be­he­moth in in­fras­truc­tural de­vel­op­ment.

Us­ing vir­tual re­al­ity ef­fects, the video gives an artist’s im­pres­sion of the pro­posed struc­ture and its work­ings.

“It was also es­tab­lished that the Hous­ton-Ver­sailles lo­ca­tion was the most ideal lo­ca­tion out of all of the op­tions that were con­sid­ered, fol­low­ing the con­sid­er­a­tion of a num­ber of fac­tors; in­clud­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pacts, land ac­qui­si­tion, travel time and con­ges­tion. This link was the most … eco­nom­i­cally, en­vi­ron­men­tally and tech­ni­cally fea­si­ble op­tion,” the video states as it gave a break­down of the project.

The video does not go into the pro­posed fi­nan­cials of the project.

Ral­ston Adams, cur­rent De­mer­ara Har­bour Bridge Cor­po­ra­tion Gen­eral Man­ager and this Project’s Man­ager, for his part said that govern­ment had con­ducted a pub­lic stake­holder’s en­gage­ment which was held at the Pe­ga­sus Ho­tel and that fol­low­ing that it re­ceived 15 ex­pres­sions of in­ter­est in the project.

From that list he ex­plained that three com­pa­nies would be short­listed and they would be in­vited to sub­mit bids.

“We had a very good turnout we are in process of the pre­quel I am pleased to an­nounce that we have had 15 com­pa­nies that have shown in­ter­est in the prequalification. We have had com­pa­nies from Hol­land, China, In­dia, France, Panama, United King­dom and Trinidad and Tobago. We will then con­duct eval­u­a­tion and shortlist three con­trac­tors who will then be in­vited to sub­mit bids for this process. We will be con­duct­ing the en­vi­ron­men­tal stud­ies that is ex­pected to com­mence shortly,” Adams ex­plained.

Bhar­rat Jagdeo

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Guyana

© PressReader. All rights reserved.