NDIA Board ignores warning

pays errant contractor for defective works

The Public infrastructure Ministry will have to foot the bill for remedial works to be undertaken on the defective approach road to the $349 million Hope Canal Bridge, since the contracting company – DIPCON Engineering Inc – has been paid the 20 per cent retention monies that had been withheld when substantial flaws in the construction were discovered.

The Hope Canal Bridge
The Hope Canal Bridge

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA), Frederick Flatts, on Tuesday told Guyana Times that he is unaware of a decision made by the entity’s previous Board of Directors to withhold the money from DIPCON Engineering.

This publication was reliably informed that the Works Committee of the previous NDIA Board had inspected the multimillion-dollar project and had detected substantive flaws, warranting DIPCON in undertaking remedial works but this was never done. This and other breaches of the provisions of the contract led to the NDIA withholding the payment in an attempt to get the company to undertake the remedial works, including mandatory maintenance.

Flatts when questioned by Guyana Times repeatedly claimed ignorance of a previous Board decision to withhold the money. He said, “What I know is that money was owed.”

According to CEO, there was no reason for the new Board of Directors to withhold payment to the contractor, and as such, the NDIA went ahead and made the payment that had been withheld.

Speaking with a senior NDIA official on the basis of anonymity, this newspaper was told that in addition to the flawed road work undertaken by DIPCON Engineering, the company failed on at least two occasions to undertake maintenance works on the road during the defects liability period.

DIPCON, according to the NDIA official, also breached the original contract for the construction of the bridge and approach road by employing methods contrary to what was required under the contract.

This publication was told that the contractor was supposed to have employed a ‘pre-loading’ strategy in building the foundation for the approach road but this was not obtained.

Flatts said he is unaware of any such breach in the provisions of the contract. In fact, Flatts told Guyana Times , he is hesitant in believing that any contractor would agree to employ the ‘pre-loading’ method since it would employ the compacting of several tons more of sand and other foundation aggregates.

Flatts added that based on his preliminary assessments, the concrete slabs, which serve as the foundation for the approach roads to the bridge – buried just below the asphalt surface – are in fact too short.

The NDIA CEO further stated that at this point in time, it is unclear where the fault lies and he could not speak to whether the separation between the road and the bridge was as a result of design/specification flaws.

“My personal belief is that the concrete slabs were too short,” Flatts maintains.

He said the Public Infrastructure Ministry will take responsibility for the remedial works to be undertaken. The resources to fund the works will be sourced from the Ministry’s budget for 2016.

As such, the works are expected to be completed by the end of the year.

Commissioned in 2013, the bridge and approach road at Hope, East Coast Demerara, are components of the larger East Demerara Water Conservancy Hope Canal Relief Project, aimed at bringing relief to the conservancy and to serve as an outlet for the water in the hopes of preventing a reoccurrence of the 2005 floods.

NDIA was tasked with putting together a plan to undertake the necessary hydrological and hydraulic studies and an Environmental Management Plan.

The project, after a public bidding process, was awarded to DIPCON at the contract sum of $349,654,353, and the company commenced work on the bridge in August 2011.

A consultancy contract was awarded to CEMCO/SRKN Engineering in association with Mott Mc Donald to the value of $64 million.