The Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) is close to wrapping up its investigations into the awarding of a sole-sourced contract for a feasibility study into constructing the new Demerara River bridge.
This is according to SOCU Head, Assistant Police Commissioner Sydney James, when contacted by <<<INews>>>. While he noted that investigations were in an advanced stage, he declined to give details on whether charges would be laid.
“The investigation is almost completed. It’s an ongoing investigation, but it is being finalised. The report is being finalised,” James explained, although he would only say “shortly” when asked for a specific timeframe for completion.
The contract in question was awarded to Dutch company LievenseCSO for a feasibility study into the new bridge. The Opposition had requested that the Public Procurement Commission (PPC) investigate the award of the $148 million sole-sourced contract.
In its report on the matter, the PPC had flagged Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson for requesting from Cabinet that the contract be sole-sourced, instead of being processed through the Procurement Board as the law says should be done.
The PPC 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.
The report had added 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 National Procurement and Tender Administration Board (NPTAB) 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).
It was subsequently announced that SOCU would be investigating the matter. Patterson submitted a statement to the investigative unit in September of this year, although this was criticised as the Opposition said the same standard used on them should apply to the Government. Around that time, Opposition politicians were being questioned at SOCU headquarters over other matters.