Con­struc­tion of health min­istry head of­fice de­layed nearly a year since con­tract awarded

-Au­dit Of­fice finds

Stabroek News Sunday - - FRONT PAGE -

Al­most a year af­ter the con­tract was signed, the con­struc­tion of the new head of­fice for the Pub­lic Health Min­istry is at a stand­still de­spite an ad­vance pay­ment of $71.365 mil­lion, the 2017 Au­di­tor Gen­eral’s re­port states.

“At the time of the phys­i­cal ver­i­fi­ca­tion on 13 Au­gust 2018, nine months af­ter the sign­ing of the con­tract, only piles for the foun­da­tion of the build­ing have been driven at the site... In ad­di­tion, only two work­ers were seen on site de­spite the fact that the works were sig­nif­i­cantly be­hind sched­ule. Also, only one piece of equip­ment was noted and there was no ma­te­rial present, even though the con­trac­tor had re­ceived the ad­vance pay­ment …,” the re­port, which was pre­sented to the Na­tional Assem­bly last Thurs­day, stated.

This news­pa­per did not ob­serve any ma­jor changes dur­ing a visit to the site yes­ter­day.

In ex­am­in­ing the min­istry’s ac­counts, the Au­dit Of­fice said that in­cluded in the amount of $164.198 mil­lion al­lo­cated for re­con­struc­tion of min­istry’s head of­fice is an amount of $71.365 mil­lion, which rep­re­sents pay­ment for a con­tract awarded in the sum of $365.487 mil­lion by the Na­tional Pro­cure­ment and Ten­der Ad­min­is­tra­tion Board for the first phase of con­struc­tion works.

Ac­cord­ing to a ta­ble in­cluded in the re­port, $164 mil­lion was set aside for the re­con­struc­tion of the com­plex, a car park, fence, guard hut and elec­tri­cal works.

The con­tract was awarded to the low­est of the eight bid­ders, against the Engi­neer’s Es­ti­mate of $546.751 mil­lion.

A pe­rusal of the con­tract

re­vealed that it was signed on Novem­ber 8th, 2017, with a du­ra­tion of one year and an equally-long de­fects li­a­bil­ity pe­riod. The start date was noted as 14 days af­ter the sign­ing of the con­tract but this was sub­ject to the de­tails of the or­der to com­mence, the re­port said, be­fore adding that on Novem­ber 27th. 2017, the con­trac­tor re­ceived an ad­vance pay­ment of $71.365 mil­lion, rep­re­sent­ing 20% of the con­tract sum.

In re­sponse, the min­istry pointed out that though the con­tract was signed on Novem­ber 8th, 2017, the con­trac­tor was given his com­mence­ment or­der on July 19th, 2018. Ac­cord­ing to the re­sponse, prior to the com­mence­ment or­der, the con­tac­tor was en­gaged in site prepa­ra­tion works and the re­lo­ca­tion of the min­istry’s as­sets to make the site avail­able for con­struc­tion; con­struc­tion of a bridge ($7.793 mil­lion); re­moval of derelict ve­hi­cles and equip­ment ($1.026 mil­lion); sup­ply of a 40ft con­tainer ($1.368 mil­lion); sup­ply and in­stal­la­tion of a sign­board ($1.493 mil­lion); con­struc­tion of a trans­port of­fice ($7.922 mil­lion); and con­struc­tion of a pump room and in­stal­la­tion of pres­sur­ized plumb­ing sys­tem ($3.420 mil­lion).

The min­istry in­formed the Au­dit Of­fice that its as­sets had to be re­lo­cated be­cause it was en­cum­ber­ing “the foot­print of the new build­ing.” It added that fur­ther to the com­mence­ment or­der, a pile test­ing ex­er­cise was car­ried out by the su­per­vi­sory con­sul­tant (Vikab) Guyana Ltd, with the aid of the con­trac­tor, to gar­ner sub-sur­face data, to com­plete the foun­da­tion de­signs. In this re­spect, with or­ders from the con­sul­tant, the con­trac­tor has pro­ceeded with foun­da­tion works, and has com­menced stock­pil­ing the re­spec­tive piles for the said works.

The Au­dit Of­fice, based on the re­sponse re­ceived, rec­om­mended that the Head of the Bud­get Agency ex­plain the rea­sons why the works were de­layed and pro­vide ap­proval for the ex­ten­sion of time granted to the con­trac­tor.

In Novem­ber, 2017, it was an­nounced that the min­istry would get a new head of­fice at a cost of $365 mil­lion. This was one of the con­tracts taken note of by Cab­i­net at a pre­vi­ous meet­ing.

The con­tract was awarded to Chung’s Global En­ter­prise.

In 2009, the then Min­istry of Health head of­fice on Brick­dam had been hit by fire as a re­sult of ar­son. Some of its di­vi­sions had to be ac­com­mo­dated in var­i­ous parts of the city.

Up to Au­gust, the Au­dit Of­fice found that con­struc­tion of the new head of­fice of the health min­istry had been de­layed. (Au­dit Of­fice photo)

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