No criminal charges in SOCU’s Demerara Bridge feasibility study probe

Former Minister of Public Infrastructure, David Patterson

The Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) has determined that there is no evidence that a criminal offence was committed in relation to the award of a multi-million dollar contract for the feasibility study of the new Demerara River Bridge.

SOCU also said there was no misuse of funds in the project and that there is no evidence of collusion between the Dutch-firm which was contracted, LievenseCSO and personnel from the Public Infrastructure Ministry.

A probe conducted by the Public Procurement Commission (PPC), upon request from the People’s Progressive Party/Civic(PPP/C), had flagged Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson for requesting from Cabinet that the $148 million contract be sole-sourced instead of being processed through the Procurement Board as the law says should be done.

As a result of the findings, the Opposition last August asked the Guyana Police Force’s Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) to investigate the PPC’s findings.

Based on a complaint filed by then Opposition Chief Whip, Gail Teixeira, the Procurement Commission completed its investigation into the award of the contract for a feasibility study on a new Demerara River bridge and handed its report over on August 7, 2018. The report noted that several companies had bid for the project to do the feasibility study and design for the new Demerara River bridge and 12 companies had been shortlisted.

It further outlined that only two of the 12 companies had made proposals. As such, the bidding process was annulled. It added that on November 12, 2016, the Tender Administration Board approved the move for the project to be re-tendered. The project was not re-tendered; instead, Dutch company LievenseCSO was engaged by the Public Infrastructure Ministry to do the work.

Page seven of the report noted that the bid from LievenseCSO was “unsolicited”, but Patterson took the company’s proposal to Cabinet for approval, and Cabinet granted its approval for the company to be engaged. The report, on page seven, stated that monies to be spent on the project were taken from the Demerara Harbour Bridge Corporation (Asphalt Plant Accounts).