Public Infrastructure Ministry tampering with tendering process- Opposition leader

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…provides documentations to this effect

The Ministry of Public Infrastructure under the helm of Minister David Patterson, is deliberately tampering with the procurement process in order to ensure contracts are handed out to favoured contractors.

This is according to Opposition Leader, Dr Bharrat Jagdeo who on Wednesday met with members of the local press corps at his Church Street Office and provided documentations to this effect.

Opposition Leader Dr Bharrat Jagdeo

Jagdeo told reporters the Ministry has adopted a strategy where it advertises and invites persons to bid for projects but at the last minute annuls the process.

The Ministry would then go on to negotiate a contract with a chosen ‘crony’ according to Jagdeo.

As he sought to outline the Administration’s penchant for annulling the process and then opting to negotiate with favoured contractors, he noted this did not obtain only in the case of the well-publicized Feasibility Report for the new Demerara River Crossing.

The opposition leader supplied media operatives with a paper trail for other contracts which clearly showed the Ministry annulling the process before going onto select contractors of their choosing.

One such project involved the multi-million dollar reconstruction of the Administrative Blocks for the Georgetown Prisons—being undertaken by the Ministry of Public Infrastructure and not the Ministry of Public Security.

Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Public Infrastructure, Geoffrey Vaughn

A total of twenty companies had been shortlisted from a prequalification process and were invited by the Permanent Secretary, Geoffrey Vaughn.

According to documentation seen by this publication, the permanent Secretary invited the 20 companies to conduct a site visit on July 27, 2017 and were to respond by the following day on whether or not they would be submitting a bid for the project.

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 in giving reason pointed to its 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.

Minister of Public Infrastructure, David Patterson

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.

According to Jagdeo, “they annul the bid process after they award the contract,…another set of corruption in the same Ministry.”

The Opposition Leader was adamant too that the Ministry needs to come clean and explain what was currently happening with the feasibility study for the Wismar/Mackenzie Bridge in Linden.

He recalled that Minister Patterson’s web of lies had entangled this project too since he had claimed that it was being funded by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) but this turned out not to be the case.

Patterson had also erroneously claimed that the IDB was also funding the feasibility report for the new Demerara River Crossing.

Jagdeo told reporters that ever since November last year the tenders had been opened for the feasibility study for the Wismar/Mackenzie Bridge.

“How come from November 30, 2016 to now they have not awarded this contract for the Wismar Bridge,” the Opposition Leader questioned.

The former President was adamant, “we are getting a bunch of lies and corruption, unbelievable levels of corruption in this ministry.”

He told media operatives 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.”

Jagdeo recalled too that the same practice obtained by the David Patterson run Ministry for the multi-billion dollar Sherriff Street upgrade.

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.

With regards the sudden cancellation of the Vehicular Overpass that was announced, Jagdeo suggested that none of the favoured bidders had been successful and this was why the project was scrapped and that it had nothing to do with the reasons offered.

The Ministry recently indicated that the land earmarked for the project had in fact been sold in a private arrangement.

Jagdeo is however not buying the argument and questioned why government was not simply going to buy back the land as was the case with the new Demerara River Crossing.

“Assuming it’s sold, why did you not check that before you went out to tender, and secondly what’s wrong with acquiring the land now…this s another excuse for annulling that tender” Jagdeo questioned.

Works being carried out on Phase Two of the Kitty Seawall Sinkhole project on Vlissengen Road

The opposition leader charged too that the roundabout being constructed by that Ministry in the vicinity of the Kitty seawall is another project tainted by corruption under Patterson.

According to Jagdeo, this project being executed to the tune hundreds of millions of dollars was also not subject to public tender.

“This Ministry has a track record and I am giving the evidence of it, we have shown several bids now, I am not just talking off the top of my head…you have at least ten cases of tampering with the bidding process, at least ten cases before you now” Jagdeo charged, adding that his references were but a mere sampling of such documented cases.

“This is not an exhaustive list. It is just indicative of the corruption at the Ministry of the Public Infrastructure ….the ministry is spending money in a reckless way.  It does not know what it is doing. It is corrupt to the core,” he said.

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