Guyana, India ink US$12.7M contract for ocean-going ferry
…US$8M in grant from India
In less than two years, Guyana will have a spanking new ocean-going passenger and cargo ferry vessel added to its fleet, after a US$12.7 million contract was signed on Wednesday for the construction of a vessel to ply the North-West District-Georgetown route.
This is part of a US$18 million project being funded by the Indian Government; that is, US$8 million grant and US$10 million Line of Credit (LOC).
Signing the US$12,733,403 contract in the Boardroom of the Public Works Ministry were General Manager of the Transport and Harbours Department, Marclene Merchant, and Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Vladim Persaud, who signed as a witness.
This was done in the presence of local representatives of the India-based Garden Reach Shipbuilders & Engineers Ltd (GRES), which has been contracted to build the vessel. The company will have 18 months to deliver the vessel, which will have larger capacity for cargo, and allow for reduced travel time as well as greater passenger comfort and safety.
Public Works Minister Juan Edghill reminded that former President Donald Ramotar, under the last PPP/C Administration, had secured funding from the Indian Government for the vessel, but no significant progress had been made in the last five years.
“The money for the ferry was available. We came back to office five years later, no contract was awarded and signed, no ferry was built, and the monies still available,” Edghill asserted.
He noting that, within months, the Irfaan Ali-led Administration had been able to resolve what had seemed an “insurmountable” problem with the project.
The Public Works Minister went on to emphasise the need for such a vessel to ply the North-West District-to-Georgetown route.
“The vessel that currently serves that route has developed serious problems – the MV Kimbia. It must go into dry dock because it has developed a hole in the bow. These vessels are aged, and that was one of the reasons why the PPP/C, in a previous administration, was seeking to renew and modernise the fleet. But only God knows why the delays for five years,” he posited.
According to Minister Edghill, the APNU/AFC Coalition was attempting to award the contract to the highest bidder, which he said was “not flying at the procurement level…and you are dealing with a bilateral partner that has processes and expects that your own processes in your own country are followed.”
Project finally taking off
The Indian High Commissioner to Guyana, Dr K.J. Srinivasa, had told Guyana Times back in November 2020 that the EXIM (Export-Import) Bank of India had blocked clearance of the funds due to some issues.
GRES, the Indian firm contracted to build the vessel, was the lowest bidder. As such, during Wednesday’s contract signing, Dr Srinivasa expressed elation at the US$18 project finally taking off, noting that additional works are being undertaken under this initiative.
“Out of this US$12.733 million being spent for this particular ferry, the first US$8 million will be taken care of as a grant by the Government of India. So, only US$4.733 million will be the line of credit component. The remaining amount of the US$18 million, we are seeing how best we can work in upgrading the stellings at both the arrival and departure ports.
“We got the proposal from the Government of Guyana [on Wednesday] so we plan to take it up with our Ministry back home, and see how best we can work with that at a fast pace,” the Indian diplomat stated.
It was noted that the US$12.7 million will be disbursed in three phases to the contractor. An advanced payment of 20 per cent of the contract sum; that is, US$2,253,601, will be paid in the coming days, and then 40 per cent – amounting to US$5,239,901 – will be released later this year at various construction milestone dates. The final sum of the remaining 40 per cent will be disbursed in 2022 after the installation of the main engines and steering systems, and upon receipt and acceptance of the vessel.
GRES is a prominent shipbuilding company under the administrative control of the Ministry of Defence in India, and primarily caters to the shipbuilding requirements of the Indian Navy and the Indian Coast Guard.
The shipbuilding product line extends its span from technologically sophisticated frigates and corvettes to fast patrol vessels. In the last five decades, GRES has built and delivered ships ranging from small to large and advanced vessels, including frigates, anti-submarine warfare corvettes, missile corvettes, landing ship tanks, landing craft utilities, survey vessels, fleet replenishment tankers, fast patrol vessels, offshore patrol vessels, inshore patrol vessels, WJ-FAC, hovercrafts and fast interceptor boats for the Indian Navy, Indian Coast Guard, MHA, and governments of other countries.
GRES has built and supplied more than 750 vessels to carry men and material for the surveillance of the coast line. Over the years, the company has responded to the various shipbuilding requirements of the Indian Defence Services, and has evolved from building simpler vessels to building larger and technically advanced warships.
The company was represented at Wednesday’s signing by Vishnu Doerga and Daniel Sugrim. (G8)