Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson has been found to be less than truthful again, this time as he attempted to clarify misinformation that he had already disseminated—this time falsely accusing the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) of funding a feasibility study for a replacement bridge on the Demerara in Region 10 at the Wismar/Mackenzie crossing.
This misrepresentation was made while the Minister was retracting a previous erroneous claim that “with funding from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the Ministry advertised the consultancy for feasibility study and design for the new Demerara River Bridge”.
However, upon investigation and verification, it has since been clearly revealed that no provision for such a project was provided by the IDB. As a matter of fact, the project was never advertised by the said financial institution.
Corroborating this claim is that funding for the construction of the Wismar-Mackenzie Bridge is being provided under the United Kingdom Infrastructure Fund (UKIF) programme, which is currently being administered by the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB).
However, to date, under the project, no allocation has been made by CDB.
According to media reports dated November 30, 2016, tenders for the project were opened by the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board (NPTAB) on November 29, 2016.
To date, no disclosure has been made on which of the three companies has been selected to conduct the feasibility study and design of the bridge, nor was the source of funding stated.
In Budget Speech 2017, the Minister of Finance stated, “A feasibility study for the reconstruction of the existing bridge, which links the communities of Wismar and Mackenzie, will also be carried out”.
However, upon reviewing the Budget estimates for the corresponding period, no mention was made of it, nor was it highlighted in the 2017 mid-year report.
In an article published in that state newspaper on June 25, 2017, seven months after tender was opened for the project, the Permanent Secretary of the Public Infrastructure Ministry was quoted as saying, “Nothing pertaining to the bridge is being done right now, even though a feasibility study was being considered.”
Observers have since noted that inconsistencies and deceptive answers emanating from Minister Patterson are a serious cause for concern.
He had, over the weekend, attempted to clear the air when he implicated the IDB as being the financiers of the New Demerara River crossing, envisioned to land between Houston and Verasilles, respectively on the eastern and western banks of the Demerara River. This was found to be untrue, and according to Minister Patterson, in seeking to offer an explanation, “The Ministry wishes to state that the consultancy was not funded by the IDB, but rather by the Government of Guyana.”
In an attempt to offer an explanation, he said “The mix-up arose since the IDB was funding the feasibility study and design for the bridge across the Demerara River at Wismar at about the same time.”
He had originally claimed it was with funding from the IDB that the Ministry had advertised the consultancy for feasibility study and design for the new Demerara River Bridge.
The blunder implicating the IDB has seen PPP/C Member of Parliament Bishop Juan Edghill calling for the immediate sacking of this Minister.
The PPP/C Member of Parliament, in calling for President Granger to immediately fire Minister Patterson, said, “This latest public blunder by Patterson was no mistake, as he is leading people to believe now.”
Edghill explained to this publication that when sums of money are being taken from the treasury to fund a feasibility report, that process is entirely different from one in which the IDB is providing funding. There is a whole long process involved that is completely different, he said.
“So Patterson can’t just say, ‘Oh, I mixed up the bridges,’ and is not sanctioned. Clearly he doesn’t know what he is doing,” Edghill charged.
It has now been revealed that the IDB is funding studies for neither of the bridges.