Georgetown Prison contract was annulled to have it transferred- Patterson

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– says Ministry was only providing “technical support”

The Public Infrastructure Ministry has come out to admit that a tender to reconstruct the administrative blocks of the Georgetown Prison was annulled. But pushing back against allegations of cronyism, the Ministry is claiming that this was to allow the project to be transferred.

According to Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson, in a statement, the process was annulled because the Ministry was not the subject Ministry. According to the Minister, his Ministry was just providing “technical support”.

Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson

“ The process was indeed annulled; the cries of cronyism by the Opposition are more of their mischievous attempts to spread falsehoods. The annulment was to allow for the project to fall under the relevant Ministry, which in this case is the Ministry of Public Security.”

“The Opposition presents these documents that are indeed official, because the Ministry publicly puts the information out there; this is information that is in the public domain,” Patterson continued, going on to accuse the political Opposition of half-truths.

At his last press conference, Opposition Leader Dr Bharrat Jagdeo supplied media operatives with a paper trail for other contracts which clearly showed the Ministry annulling the processes.

One such project involved the multi-million-dollar reconstruction of the administrative blocks for the Georgetown Prison – being undertaken by the Public Infrastructure Ministry and not the Public Security Ministry.

The Camp Street Prison after it was gutted

A total of 20 companies had been shortlisted from a pre-qualification process and were invited by the Permanent Secretary, Geoffrey Vaughn to conduct a site visit on July 27, 2017. They were to respond by the following day on whether or not they would be submitting a bid for the project.

These companies included Bassoo and Sons; Ivor Allen; Colin Talbot; SA Nabi and Sons; S Jagmohan Hardware Supplies and Construction Services; H Nauth and Sons; KP Thomas; BK International Inc; J&R General Construction; Courtney Benn Contracting Services; Chung’s Global Enterprise and Guyamerica Construction Inc.

Also vying for the contract were Starr Computers; Net Comp; Hardware Depot; Business Communications Services; Dax Contracting Services; Manohar; Industrial Fabrication Inc and NT Computeac.

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 then pointed to the 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 defense of his claims related to the pedestrian overpasses being constructed along the East Bank Corridors.

In January last 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 Bond 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.

It would not be the first time bidders have been “left hanging” after an annulled tender. Opposition Leader Jagdeo has consistently accused the Ministry of cancelling tenders when it receives unfavourable results, thereby manipulating the system.

“If the tenders don’t yield the results that they want, they keep annulling the tender,” Jagdeo had said during a March press conference, when he zeroed in on the scandal at the Georgetown Public Hospital where a multi-million-dollar contract for drug procurement was sole-sourced to ANSA McAL.

The Georgetown Public Hospital was accused of delaying and cancelling four of its five public tenders in the months preceding the sole-sourced contract.

This then created a situation where there was a massive shortage of pharmaceuticals; a fact which was initially denied by the authorities and which had the potential to cause deaths and aggravated illnesses in patients lacking medication.

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.

He said 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.” (Jarryl Bryan)

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