Technical team to meet today on way forward in Conversation Tree $1.8B road project

President Dr Irfaan Ali along with Public Works Minister Juan Edghill and other officials at the site on Thursday evening

Days after the Government of Guyana threatened to terminate the $1.8 billion contract awarded to Kalco Guyana Incorporated for the completion of Lot 8 B of the Conversation Tree to Dennis Street road project, President Dr Irfaan Ali on Thursday announced that the technical team would meet today to discuss a way forward.
During a visit to the site, President Ali said that immediate drainage and irrigation works must be conducted on the incomplete portions of the project, to avoid flooding should the weather conditions take a turn.
“We have to do some D&I work here, because I don’t want this remaining work to cost us. We have to make some decisions here,” the President stated.

The paving of Conversation Tree roadway

The project was split into two lots, the first of which was completed by S Jagmohan Construction and General Supplies Inc. The second phase was awarded to Trinidadian company Kalco Guyana Incorporated, which has been flagged on multiple occasions for poor performance.
The construction of two large concrete bridges to establish a connection to Dennis Street is also part of the work.
The President also engaged with youths in the area, who lamented that the ongoing roadworks have disrupted the construction of the nearby ballfield. In response, President Ali contacted the Culture, Youth, and Sport Minister, Charles Ramson Jr, who assured that work would restart immediately.
He committed to return to the community to engage with the youths.
President Ali was accompanied by Public Works Minister Juan Edghill; Head of the Ministry’s Work Services Group, Ron Rahaman, and Senior Project Engineer Kester Hinds.
Currently, works are not ongoing at the site, even though the initial project deadline was set for November 5, 2023. In fact, during an inspection conducted on March 4, Edghill was informed that Kalco Guyana Inc had instructed its engineers to halt operations.
The Public Works Minister stated, “The Conversation Tree [project], we are engaging the contractor with the view of terminating…Kalco did not live up to expectations.”
Just a few days ago during a meeting with representatives of Ministries and agencies responsible for awarding and monitoring Government contracts, President Ali ordered that penalties outlined in several Government contracts be enforced for companies that continue to default on their contractual obligations.
During the said meeting, the Head of State also instructed that project updates for several ongoing works be completed for review and according to Minister Edghill, work was ongoing to fulfil the President’s order.
The project updates will be provided to the Attorney General and Legal Affairs Minister Anil Nandlall and letters of notice would be issued while the Finance Ministry is tasked with calculating the liquidated damages.
Liquidated damages refer to a provision allowing for the payment of a specified sum in the case of a breach of contract. In this case, the President says the Government will go after those defaulting contractors that have gone past their project deadline and the justifiable extensions.
“All projects beyond the contracted time, where we have exhausted justified extensions, (we will) issue a letter today instructing that the liquidated damages be instituted immediately. We cannot tolerate this.”
“The Minister of Finance (Dr Ashni Singh) will ensure that the internal auditors clarify the related damages and ensure that they’re calculated and deducted,” Dr Ali said at the time.
Further, the Head of State disclosed that action must now be taken to strengthen project management teams in the public sector.
As a result, the Attorney General’s office will now have a specialised unit dealing with contracts and project management, as part of efforts to ensure compliance.
Dr Ali noted that all project managers and senior engineers under this unit will be properly qualified.
“We are adopting a no-nonsense approach in contract management. We are going to have an independent team managing and reviewing project files so that we have project audits. As project engineers and project managers, you have to ensure that your files are updated, your minutes are recorded and signed. As we take action, we have to get paperwork intact,” the Head of State said.