42 companies submit bids for construction of new Demerara Habour Bridge
Forty-two bids were submitted to the Public Works Ministry for the construction of the new Demerara Harbour Bridge.
The bids were removed from the tender box, counted and stamped on Friday in the presence of Public Works Minister Juan Edghill, Finance Minister Dr Ashni Singh and contactors at the Public Works Ministry, Wights Lane, Kingston.
Following the process, Edghill said that the proposals are very voluminous and now the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board (NPTAB) will start the process for the awarding.
“Today, we took out from the tender box and counted before the whole world, 42 bids or proposals. I would like to thank all the companies, their principals and technical people who participated in this process. They have now given to the NPTAB and Government of Guyana, real work because the proposals are voluminous,” the Minister said, adding that the rules of engagement will be transparency, accountability and full disclosure to the people of Guyana.
“That’s the assurances that the Irfaan Ali Administration would have come to Government with. That’s the modus operandi that we have followed since we are in Government and on this very significant public infrastructure project, we will continue to keep faith with the people of Guyana in keeping with the principles of good governance.”
Meanwhile, Dr Singh said that Friday’s exercise is important and historical.
“We witnessed probably an unprecedented level of interest in a major infrastructure project in Guyana. To begin with, the Demerara River Bridge crossing is a large and important project, and is one that will make a dramatic contribution to the improvement of our country’s transport infrastructure,” the Finance Minister said, while pointing out that everyone has witnessed that the current Demerara Harbour Bridge has outlived its lifespan and relevance in the Guyana of today.
“One merely has to observe the daily traffic congestion on the East Bank of Demerara, both in the mornings and the evenings – which has contributed to thousands and thousands of lost manhours as people endure the daily commute into and out of the city,” Dr Singh noted.
He said that Government has recognised that it is critical to have a crossing of larger capacity, not just to meet the immediate needs and alleviate the challenges faced by the commuters of today, but also as part the longer-term vision for upgrading and expanding the transport infrastructure of the country more broadly.
“President (Irfaan) Ali has outlined an incredibly exciting vision for Guyana and it’s a vision that when realised, will see the Guyana of tomorrow being virtually unrecognisable, relative to the Guyana of today and yesterday…”, Singh said. He noted that all of the various elements are part of an agenda for a truly dynamic and vibrant economy. “Oil and gas is important but President Ali’s agenda and his mandate to his Ministers have in a very direct and frontal way, emphasised that alongside the exciting development of oil and gas, must be a dynamic and vibrant non-oil economy.”
Agriculture, tourism and hospitality, construction services, financial services and all of the other aspects of the non-oil economy, he said, Government has an intent of ensuring expands and grows and is competitive in a global setting.
“When we speak of local content, we speak simultaneously of ensuring that the non-oil sector is able to play its rightful role and its rightful place in the grand, economic vision of the future and the exciting economic future that lies before Guyana.
This is an extremely important project in its own right considering what it will do to increase productivity across the Demerara River but it must not be viewed as a project that stands alone but as a project of a much broader picture,” the Finance Minister added.
The bridge has outlasted its lifespan by more than 20 years. Since 2013, the then PPP/C Government had expressed the intention to construct a new Demerara River crossing as was stated during the National Budget presentation. According to that proposal, that bridge would have had four lanes, as well as a pedestrian walkway and a bicycle lane. Additionally, it was proposed to have navigational aids to avoid marine traffic from colliding with the structure. However, following a change of Government in 2015, the project descended into limbo. The APNU/AFC, which was ousted from Government this year – firstly downscaled the design which saw a proposal for the bridge to be three lanes with a moveable section for marine traffic.
However, the contract for the feasibility study was sole-sourced by the APNU/AFC Government which led to much controversy. This led to a probe into the awarding of the $148 million contract to Dutch company LievenseCSO. The probe found that several companies had bid for the project to do the feasibility study and design for the new Demerara River bridge and 12 companies had been shortlisted. The report had added that only two of the 12 companies had made proposals. As such, the bidding process was annulled. It added that on November 12, 2016, the Tender Administration Board approved the move for the project to be re-tendered. The project was not re-tendered; instead, Dutch company LievenseCSO was engaged by the Public Infrastructure Ministry to do the work. The report also noted that the bid from LievenseCSO was “unsolicited”, but then APNU/AFC Minister David Patterson took the company’s proposal to Cabinet for approval, and Cabinet granted its approval for the company to be engaged. The report stated that monies to be spent on the project were taken from the Demerara Harbour Bridge Corporation (Asphalt Plant Accounts).
A probe was also conducted by the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) into the awarding of the $146 million sole-sourced contract.
In November this year, Police again launched another investigation into the award of a contract to LievenseCSO in 2016.