GT&T denies delaying East Bank road projects

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See below the full statement by GT&T

4 lane[www.inewsguyana.com] – Guyana Telephone & Telegraph Co. Ltd (GT&T) notes with deep concern the recent widely disseminated reports in the print and electronic media in which BK International Inc. accuses GT&T as being responsible for delays in the completion of the East Bank of Demerara road projects. For the record, GT&T categorically denies these spurious allegations. We therefore wish to take this opportunity to state the facts.

Project 1: Construction of New Access Road: Timehri

Guyana Telephone & Telegraph Co. Ltd (GT&T) was contacted by B. K. International Inc. on July 29th 2011 concerning the relocation of its network plant and facilities (aerial and buried copper and fibre optic cables, poles and network access cabinets) in the vicinity of the project area.   On August 2nd 2011, Engineering representatives of Guyana Telephone & Telegraph Co. Ltd (GT&T), BK International Inc. and Ministry of Public Works/Works Services’ Group (MPW/WSG) conducted a joint survey of the project area to identify the locations of GT&T’s facilities.

Consistent with established protocols for the execution of such works, on September 2nd 2011, an invoice for the cost associated with the required relocation of GT&T’s facilities was released to BK International Inc. and copied to the Ministry of Public Works.   Although the invoiced sum was not paid, BK International Inc. commenced work and GT&T began to experience damages to its network facilities as early as September 28th, 2011.

Subsequently, the Ministry requested   partial rather than complete relocation of our facilities in the project area and the invoice for those works was dispatched to the Ministry on January 20th 2012. A payment of fifty percent of the partial relocation cost was received from the Ministry on February 9th 2012 and the partial relocation of our aerial cables was completed on March 7th 2012. However, a considerable amount of our major assets remained to be relocated out of the project area.

All the while BK International Inc. continued, seemingly in a reckless manner, damaging previously identified facilities seven(7) times in various locations between September 28th   2011 and May 13th 2013. These damages affected some 1,800 of our residential and business customers and the cumulative restoration cost amounted to G$2.9 million.

Equally important is the fact that these damages compromised critical communications at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport and nearby sensitive locations including the Guyana Police Force (GPF) and Guyana Defence Force (GDF). Instructively, although the invoices for these damages were sent to BK International Inc., to date GT&T has received neither acknowledgement nor payment.

Frustrated with the contractor’s reckless working practices and refusal to acknowledge or pay our submitted invoices associated with the multiplicity of damage , and in a required effort to protect the integrity of our network and service to customers, GT&T on May 8th 2012 sought relief in the High Court. The Court encouraged the parties to settle the matter and on May 6th 2014 a settlement was reached.   As a result of this settlement GT&T waived claim to G$20.5 million of outstanding facilities relocation costs. To date, payment of the amount due as per terms of the settlement remains outstanding.

East Bank Demerara Four Lane Extension – Providence to Diamond

B. K. International Inc. was awarded Lot 3 (the area between the Diamond intersection and the Diamond DSL Supermarket) of the Four-Lane Extension Project (Providence to Diamond).   The Ministry of Public Works first approached GT&T about its facilities along the road alignment on February 27th 2012.   Our Engineers reviewed the Ministry’s construction plans and indicated the areas where its network infrastructure facilities (including aerial and buried fibre optic and copper cables, poles, etc.) would be affected by the proposed works. Thereafter, on March 1st 2012, Engineers representing GT&T, the Ministry and BK International Inc. undertook a joint survey during which markers were placed to indicate the location of our buried infrastructure facilities.

An invoice for the cost of relocating our network infrastructure facilities was submitted to the Ministry on May 4th 2012. Although the invoice was not paid it became clear that project works had commenced. More importantly, even though all parties had participated in a survey of the work area and the location of our facilities were marked, we experienced 17 incidences of damage within Lot 3 between April 20th 2013 and January 25th 2014. These damages affected in excess of 8,000 residential and business customers and the restoration cost amounted to G$4.3M. Again, our invoices to the contractor, BK International Inc., were neither acknowledged nor paid.   This outstanding payment is currently engaging the attention of the company’s lawyers.

On July 5th 2013, at GT&T’s initiative, a meeting was convened with the Ministry to discuss outstanding issues and to settle outstanding amounts owed to GT&T for damages to infrastructural facilities. Lot 3 was revisited by all parties in August 2013 and an updated and disaggregated invoice for infrastructure facilities relocation in this project area was requested by and sent to the Ministry.  

On February 28th 2014, GT&T and the Ministry entered into a contract to relocate aerial cables and associated fixtures to a new pole route and to relocate the buried cables (South of the DDL High Bridge).   It should be noted that this only accounted for a portion of the facilities to be relocated in Lot 3. GT&T received this payment on May 20th 2014 and we are scheduled to commence works during the week of May 25th 2014.  

We trust this chronology of the facts will serve to bring perspective to the issues raised publicly by BK International Inc. and demonstrate beyond a doubt that GT&T bears no responsibility for any delays in the East Bank of Demerara Road Projects.

GT&T remains committed and ready to cooperate with the Ministry and all of its contractors in the interests of national development. However, there needs to be reciprocity. If works are to proceed in a timely manner, all parties will need to adhere to established procedures and protocols and timelines established in agreements. Public utility infrastructure likely to be affected by project works must be factored into project cost and project timelines from the inception and oversight of the contractors by the Ministry needs to stringent.

In the final analysis, GT&T has an obligation to protection the integrity of the National Communications Infrastructure   in the interest of all of its users.

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