‘Proof’ Infrastructure Ministry tampering with contracts
…has a track record and I am giving the evidence of it – Jagdeo
The Public Infrastructure Ministry under the helm of Minister David Patterson, is accused of deliberately tampering with the procurement process in order to ensure contracts are handed out to favoured contractors.
Former President Bharrat Jagdeo on Wednesday met with members of the local
press corps at his Church Street Office and provided documentation to this effect.
Jagdeo told reporters the Ministry has adopted a strategy where it advertises and invites persons to bid for projects but at the last minute, annul the process. The Ministry would then go on to negotiate a contract with a chosen ‘cronies’, according to Jagdeo.
As he sought to outline the Administration’s penchant for annulling the process and then opting to negotiate with favoured contractors, the Opposition Leader said this does not obtain only in the case of the well-publicised Feasibility Report for the
new Demerara River bridge.
The Opposition Leader supplied media operatives with a paper trail for other contracts which clearly shows the Ministry annulling the process before going on to select favoured contractors.
One such project involved the multimillion-dollar reconstruction of the Administrative Blocks for the Georgetown prison – being undertaken by the Public Infrastructure Ministry and not the Public Security Ministry.
A total of 20 companies had been shortlisted from a prequalification process and were invited by the Permanent Secretary, Geoffrey Vaughn.
According to documentation seen by Guyana Times, the Permanent Secretary
invited the 20 companies to conduct a site visit on July 27, 2017 and were to respond by the following day on whether or not they would be submitting a bid for the project.
The visit was the following day rescheduled by the Ministry’s Work Services Group Manager, for Procurement and Contracts, Philip Bryan.
The procurement manager, by way of email, a copy of which was seen by this publication, indicated that the site visit for the project was rescheduled for the following day, Friday, July 27, 2017.
On July 28, 2017, Permanent Secretary Vaughn wrote again to the bidders saying, “the Ministry regrets to inform you that a decision was taken by the executing agency to annul this bid.”
Vaughn, in giving reason, points to its clause which speaks to the “Employer’s right to accept any bid and to reject any or all bids.”
Another such project for which Jagdeo presented documentation in defence of his claims related to the pedestrian overpasses being constructed along the East Bank corridors.
In January of this year, bids were opened at the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board (NPTAB) at which point it was determined that 16 companies had submitted their bids.
In March, the Permanent Secretary wrote to the companies informing them that the contract had been awarded to B&J Civil Works.
Vaughn, in his missive to bidders, noted “accordingly, please be advised that your Bid Bon is released and accordingly, you are released from any performance under this bid.”
The Permanent Secretary three days later wrote to the company indicating that the process had been annulled.
According to Jagdeo, “they annul the bid process after they award the contract… another set of corruption in the same Ministry.”
The Opposition Leader was adamant too that the Ministry needs to come clean and explain what was currently happening with the feasibility study for the Wismar/Mackenzie Bridge in Linden, Region 10 (Upper Demerara-Berbice).
He recalled that Minister Patterson’s web of lies had entangled this project too since he had claimed that it was being funded by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) but this turned out not to be the case.
Patterson had also erroneously claimed that the IDB was also funding the feasibility report for the new Demerara River bridge.
Jagdeo told reporters that ever since November last year the tenders had been opened for the feasibility study for the Wismar/Mackenzie Bridge.
“How come from November 30, 2016, to now they have not awarded this contract for the Wismar Bridge,” the Opposition Leader questioned.
The former President was adamant, “we are getting a bunch of lies and corruption, unbelievable levels of corruption in this Ministry.”
He told media operatives the Administration has developed a modus operandi where it has a penchant for annulling tenders, “when the desired person doesn’t get the bid, win the bid, one of their cronies.”
Jagdeo recalled too that the same practice obtained by the David Patterson run Ministry for the multibillion-dollar Sherriff Street upgrade.
The Opposition Leader told media operatives this practice is also employed by the Administration for a range of other projects, such as a recent award for a contract for a water treatment plant, and projects at the Guyana Power and Light Inc, among others.
With regards the sudden cancellation of the Vehicular Overpass that was announced, Jagdeo suggested that none of the favoured bidders had been successful and this was why the project was scrapped and that it had nothing to do with the reasons offered.
The Ministry recently indicated that the land earmarked for the project had in fact been sold in a private arrangement.
Jagdeo is, however, not buying the argument and questioned why Government was not simply going to buy back the land as was the case with the new Demerara River brisge.
“Assuming it’s sold, why did you not check that before you went out to tender, and secondly what’s wrong with acquiring the land now…this’s another excuse for annulling that tender,” Jagdeo questioned.
The Opposition Leader charged too that the roundabout being constructed by that Ministry in the vicinity of the Kitty seawall is another project tainted by corruption under Patterson.
According to Jagdeo, this project being executed to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars was also not subject to public tender.
“This Ministry has a track record and I am giving the evidence of it; we have shown several bids now, I am not just talking off the top of my head…you have at least 10 cases of tampering with the bidding process, at least 10 cases before you now,” Jagdeo charged, adding that his references were but a mere sampling of such documented cases.
“This is not an exhaustive list. It is just indicative of the corruption at the Ministry of the Public Infrastructure… the Ministry is spending money in a reckless way. It does not know what it is doing. It is corrupt to the core,” he said.