Govt retenders for construction of Health Ministry’s HQ

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The Government of Guyana has retendered for the contract to construct the Ministry of Health headquarters at Brickdam – one of several troubled contracts that the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) had to terminate over breaches by the contractor.

According to a published notice, phase one of the project will be retendered and bids will be opened on May 4, 2021, as per the Procurement Act of 2003. The notice further informed that bidding documents can be purchased from April 9.

“A pre-bid conference will be held on April 22, 2021, at the Ministry of Health’s Permanent Secretary boardroom, Lot 1 Brickdam… bids will be opened in the presence of bidding representatives and anyone who chooses to attend on May 4,” the notice further explained.

After repeated contractual breaches, protracted delays and almost tripling of the contract costs, the Government had in November 2020 terminated the $356.8 million contract that was awarded to Chung’s Global Enterprise to construct the headquarters of the Health Ministry.

In a letter, Attorney General Anil Nandlall had written to Cleon Chung of Chung’s Global Enterprise had informed him that the contract was being terminated effective October 31, 2020, on the grounds of contractual breaches.

Chung’s was awarded the contract in 2017, to construct the Public Health Ministry’s head office building at Lot 1 Brickdam to the tune of $356.8 million. Works commenced on July 19, 2018, and the contractor was supposed to complete the project within a year.

However, in September 2020, despite receiving $308.4 million for advance payments and mobilisation expenses, as well as two extensions totalling 317 days, permanent works were 70 per cent completed at the site.

To add insult to injury, the contractor submitted a repriced bill of quantities, demanding an additional sum of $513.3 million on August 3, 2020 – a mere day after the Government officially changed hands with the swearing-in of President Dr Irfaan Ali.

The new bill of quantities submitted by the contractor contained a breakdown of all completed works and their corresponding cost, as well as a breakdown of the outstanding works to be completed and their estimated cost.

“In further breach of the said contract you failed to respond within the required time in submitting additional requested information on the priced bill of quantities pursuant to Clause 28.2 of General Conditions of Contract which provide that at the request of the employer, the contractor within seven days shall provide the employer with a detailed breakdown of prices of change in the quantities indicating the rates for kinds of works and value of consumable material. The employer shall evaluate those rates and value of consumable material in comparison with the bill of quantities,” Nandlall wrote to the contractor.

The Attorney General, therefore, instructed the contractor to immediately stop all works, secure and vacate the site as soon as possible. According to Nandlall’s letter, the Government is not only terminating the contract but also instituting legal proceedings against the contractor for breach of contract and liquidated damages.

Auditor General Deodat Sharma himself had previously flagged the delayed state of the project under the nose of the former A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Government.

In the 2017 audit report, it was pointed out that the project was at a standstill during an August site visit. By this time, the contractor had already collected $71.3 million in advance payments.