APNU/AFC Govt awarded contract to fix road that was in “good condition”

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The Audit Office has flagged the award of a contract by the David Patterson-led Ministry of Public Works for the rehabilitation of a road at La Parfaite Harmony, West Bank Demerara (WBD) that was a in a “good condition”.

In relation to the contract, the works included clearing and grubbing of vegetation, scarification of carriageway, placing of white sand/sand clay and crusher run sub-base with asphaltic concrete finished surface.

Even though the mobilisation advance of $1.324M was paid since December 2019, the Notice to Commence the works was issued on June 2, 2020; that is, approximately five months after. The completion date of for the works was September 4, 2020; that is, three months after the Notice to Commence the works was issued.

On June 16, 2020; that is, two weeks after the Notice to Commence works was issued, the Ministry wrote the contractor indicating that there was a change in the location and scope of works under the contract, whereby the works would now be completed on another road in close proximity of the original one.

The contract sum remained the same in spite of the changes; since, the quantities were adjusted to befit the new roadworks.

However, the Audit Office, in its 2019 Report, noted that this is a breach of Section 33 (2) of the Procurement Act, which stipulates that: “At any time prior to the deadline for submission of tenders, the procuring entity may, for any reason, whether on its own initiative or as a result of a request for clarification by a supplier or contractor, modify the tender documents.”

Then on July 28, 2020, the Ministry wrote the contractor regarding failure to mobilise, and poor performance.

However, the Audit Office said “our physical verification on 8 October 2020, revealed that the contractor had still not mobilised to site. Further, it could not be determined if the Advance Payment Bond and the Performance Bond were extended by the contractor. Also, there was no evidence that the Ministry had taken any action against the contractor for failure to mobilise to site and complete the works.”

The Audit Office further explained that during its October 8 inspection, it was observed that the road had an asphalt surface and did not display any signs of failure or deterioration.

“However, according to the scope of works under the contract, the contractor was required to demolish the existing asphalt surface road and rebuild it again. In conclusion, the basis for selection of this road for rehabilitative works was unclear,” the 2019 Report noted.

In response, the Ministry admitted that the road selected was indeed in a “good condition” and claimed that the award of the contract was “an oversight”.

The Ministry noted too that every effort would be taken to avoid a recurrence.

Regarding the other issues raised, the Ministry explained that the issuing of the Commencement Letter was an oversight and that steps have been put in place to avoid a recurrence.