‘A lot of mis­in­for­ma­tion is be­ing ped­dled by Govt’ – PPP

Weekend Mirror - - EDITORIAL -


Peo­ple’s Pro­gres­sive Party (PPP) in a state­ment sought to clear the air re­gard­ing the mis­in­for­ma­tion be­ing ped­dled by Min­is­ter David Pat­ter­son in re­la­tion to the pro­posed new De­mer­ara Har­bour Bridge. Ac­cord­ing to the state­ment, “Much de­bate have sud­denly erupted in re­la­tion to the pro­posed new bridge across the De­mer­ara River. In the process, a lot of mis­in­for­ma­tion is be­ing ped­dled by Min­is­ter David Pat­ter­son, which the Kai­eteur News, in par­tic­u­lar, takes great pride in churn­ing out.

Be­low is the full State­ment from the PPP:

Much de­bate have sud­denly erupted in re­la­tion to the pro­posed new bridge across the De­mer­ara River. In the process, a lot of mis­in­for­ma­tion is be­ing ped­dled by Min­is­ter David Pat­ter­son, which the Kai­eteur News, in par­tic­u­lar, takes great pride in churn­ing out.

Against this back­drop of dis­tor­tions, lies and misin- for­ma­tion, the Peo­ple’s Pro­gres­sive Party (PPP) wishes to posit that we were al­ways sup­port­ive and will con­tinue to sup­port a mod­ern bridge across the De­mer­ara River, con­structed and fi­nanced by ar­range­ments that are trans­par­ent, accountable, free from cor­rup­tion and nepo­tism and which will be af­ford­able to the cit­i­zenry and not be­come an un­sus­tain­able fi­nan­cial bur­den on the Trea­sury.

We are happy that the Gov­ern­ment has ac­knowl- edged and has made public the ev­i­dence, which con­firms that the PPP Ad­min­is­tra­tion had al­ready com­menced works on mak­ing such a bridge a re­al­ity and that a pre-fea­si­bil­ity study was al­ready con­cluded. How­ever, what we do not sup­port, is a bridge whose con­struc­tion and lo­ca­tion are mired in cor­rup­tion, whose costs are as­tro­nom­i­cal and would re­quire un­sus­tain­able sub­si­dies from the Trea­sury with un­con­scionable guar­an­tees of re­pay­ments of loans.

From all in­di­ca­tion, it is clear that this Ad­min­is­tra­tion is pro­ceed­ing in the di­rec­tion out­lined above. In this re­gard, the Public will note that the Gov­ern­ment has been un­able to ex­plain how and why the bridge ter­mi­nates upon lands owned by APNU fi­nancier, Stan­ley Ming; that this bridge is es­ti­mated to cost $170M USD (that is more than three times the cost of the Ber­bice River Bridge); that no sources of fi­nance have been iden­ti­fied and that the Gov­ern­ment is com­mit­ted to sub­si­diz­ing this bridge at un­sus­tain­able lev­els. For ex­am­ple, ac­cord­ing to the Gov­ern­ment fea­si­bil­ity study, if the 2017, toll rates are to be in­creased by 100% it will still at­tract a sub­sidy of over $140M USD, over the first 12 years. That is over $28B GYD, which is equiv­a­lent to ap­prox­i­mately $2.3B per year.

We view this ar­range­ment as a recipe for fi­nan­cial disas­ter and bank­ruptcy. In this re­gard, we make ref­er­ence to the Ber­bice Bridge, which was built at a cost of ap­prox­i­mately $50M USD, in­clu­sive of the road ap­proaches from both sides. It at­tracted no sub­si­dies from or debts to the Trea­sury and it yields a fare struc­ture which is com­pa­ra­ble to what it costs to cross with the ferry.

We take this op­por­tu­nity to draw at­ten­tion to two bridges con­structed in neigh­bour­ing Suri­name by a pre­vi­ous gov­ern­ment un­der ar­range­ments that were fi­nan­cially un­sus­tain­able. The strain that this had put on the Trea­sury of that coun­try cat­a­pulted its econ­omy into chaos

In terms of the lo­ca­tion of the bridge, what the PPP/C Ad­min­is­tra­tion did was a pre-fea­si­bil­ity study and not a fea­si­bil­ity study. This pre-fea­si­bil­ity study dealt only with pos­si­ble lo­ca­tions and the dif­fer­ent types of bridge suit­able for each lo­ca­tion. It did not treat with de­tailed costs and other vari­ables. It iden­ti­fied three (3) pos­si­ble lo­ca­tions for the bridge: Hope – Pa­ten­tia; along­side the cur­rent bridge and Hous­ton – Ver­sailles. It ex­pressed an opin­ion in re­la­tion to which type of bridge was most suit­able for which lo­ca­tion. By no means was a con­clu­sive de­ci­sion taken by the PPP/C gov­ern­ment on any model or any lo­ca­tion for the bridge.

Ad­di­tion­ally, we will speak more on the tech­ni­cal as­pect of this mat­ter in due course. In the mean­while, we pose the fol­low­ing ques­tions for the Gov­ern­ment to an­swer for the ben­e­fit of the public.

1. What would be the cost of the ac­qui­si­tion of lands at Hous­ton and at Ver­sailles? Why did the Min­istry of Public In­fra­struc­ture only an­nounced ac­qui­si­tion of lands at Hous­ton? What about Ver­sailles?

2. With this new struc­ture, what would be the cost of tolls for com­muters and for com­mer­cial trans­porters? Since, the fea­si­bil­ity study in­di­cated that in­crease of tolls will be in­ad­e­quate to fi­nance this project, what would be the level of Gov­ern­ment sub­sidy/ fi­nanc­ing?

3. Since we have not seen copies of the so­cial im­pact as­sess­ment or the environmental im­pact as­sess­ment, could the Min­is­ter in­form the na­tion how will this site af­fect busi­nesses in the vicin­ity of the pro­posed site on both north and south on both sides of the river? Since, within a spe­cific dis­tance de­ter­mined by in­ter­na­tional stan­dards moor­ing of ves­sels are re­stricted for safety pur­poses in the vicin­ity of this bridge, how will this im­pact the pub­licly an­nounced on-shore oil and gas fa­cil­ity and in­vest­ments made by Munesh­war’s Lim­ited at Hous­ton and other ex­ist­ing fish­ing es­tab­lish­ment, fuel ter­mi­nals and other wharfs that ser­vice ocean go­ing ves­sels? (The fea­si­bil­ity study rec­om­mends a 700% in­crease in the toll for river ves­sels)

4. As it re­lates to traf­fic flow and con­ges­tion, is there a net­work of roads that was con­sid­ered and how does the pro­pose Ogle to Di­a­mond by­pass road fit into this scheme?

5. What is the fi­nanc­ing model for this bridge? Would it be a Pri­vate Public Part­ner­ship (PPP) or the Build Own Op­er­ate and Trans­fer (BOOT) model? Would the se­lected con­trac­tor be re­spon­si­ble for fi­nanc­ing and build­ing the bridge as well as other in­fra­struc­ture to ac­com­mo­date us­age of the bridge or would it be two sep­a­rate awards?

6. Why is the Min­istry re­quest­ing that bid­ders sign non-dis­clo­sure agreements as well as waive their rights to protest the award, if ag­grieved? Is it be­cause the Gov­ern­ment has al­ready pre­de­ter­mined who will be con­tracted to build this bridge and the fi­nanc­ing model se­cretly agreed on? Are the few se­lected bid­ders only to be win­dow-dress­ing and to give the im­pres­sion of a fair and open process? Why is it nec­es­sary to waive their rights to protest if ag­grieved?

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