Government projects need an oversight commissioner

Dear Editor,
As day follows night, three things are crystal clear as they relate to the execution of Government projects:
(1) they never finish on time
(2) they always incur significant cost overrun or variation
(3) each party to the contract blames the other for this lack of performance.

The reasons for this state of tardiness are mostly due, but are not limited to, the following:
• Inadequate construction details in the Bill of Quantity.
• Lack of detailed construction drawings at time of tendering.
• Contractor diverting Mobilization Advance to other uses, rather than what it was intended for.
7• Untimely delays in submission of detailed drawings during construction.
• Contractor’s slow work progress because of involvement in other projects
• Slow responses from consultant for modifications and variations during construction.
• Delays in dealing with progress payments.
• Variation works not quantified before execution.
• Indiscriminate use of contingency fund.
• Infrequent site meetings.
• Poor standard of work by contractor requiring extra time for rectification.
• Poor project supervision by the subject ministry’s engineer and consultant.
• Red flags raised long after the fact of time and costly overrun.
Tardiness and underperformance have a lot to do with the dynamics of the parties involved in the Government contracts, and their dependency on each other vis-à-vis approval of payment, certifying as-built quantities etc.
It might be advisable to have an independent Commissioner of Projects, who can monitor these big Government projects from the point of the tender documents to project completion, to ensure that defects mentioned above are rectified in a timely manner.
The President has identified some mega-projects on his to-do list for his first term, such as the fixed-span Demerara River Bridge; shore-to-gas power generation plant; Ogle to Diamond highway; Parika to Vreed-en-Hoop highway; and the bridge to link Guyana with Suriname. To achieve a full measure of success, it might be prudent to have an independent Commissioner of Projects reporting directly to him, to provide the necessary drive and oversight.

Yours sincerely,
Reggie Bhagwandin