SOCU questions Patterson on controversial DHB contract

Former Minister of Public Infrastructure David Patterson
Former Minister of Public Infrastructure David Patterson

Former Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson was earlier today questioned by ranks of the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) over the controversial award of the new Demerara Bridge feasibility contract, which was found to have breached the procurement laws.

Former Head of the Demerara Harbour Bridge Corporation Rawlston Adams was also hauled in for questioning in relation to the award of the multi-million dollar contract.

Former DHB General Manager Rawlston Adams

When contacted, Head of SOCU, Superintendent Fazil Karimbaksh, confirmed that both Patterson and Adams were called in for questioning in the ongoing probe.

It was reported that Patterson’s visit to SOCU’s Headquarters lasted about ten minutes, during which he was accompanied by his lawyer.

Karimbaksh did not say however whether either or both officials will be required to return for further questioning.

Back in November 2020, Public Works Minister Juan Edghill had disclosed that the Guyana Police Force is actively probing the award of the 2016 contract to Dutch company LievenseCSO to conduct a feasibility study and design of a new Demerara Harbour Bridge.

In 2017, the then Opposition PPP/C had requested that the Public Procurement Commission investigate the contract.

Minister of Public Works Juan Edghill

Edghill, and the entire PPP/C, had sought to hold the former Coalition Administration accountable for sole-sourcing the contractor.

Among many of the Commission’s findings was that there was no advertising for the retendering of the project by the then Ministry of Public Infrastructure, under the stewardship of Patterson.

The Commission also found there was no evidence of the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board’s input prior to Patterson’s submission of a report to the Cabinet for consideration.

In June 2019, SOCU – under the direction of Sydney James – was investigating the findings against Patterson, who was still serving as minister. However, the agency had cleared the then minister of any criminal offence.