Minister of Public Infrastructure, David Patterson recently issued statements via his Facebook Page to clarify media reports regarding local stone suppliers complaining that they were boycotted in a contract to supply the material to complete the East Coast Demerara Road Expansion project.
According to an article published in the Guyana Chronicle captioned, “Chinese contractor granted permission to import stone”, at least two local contractors have complained of not receiving orders to supply stone for the East Coast of Demerara road widening and improvement project, which is being undertaken locally by China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC). The contractors claim they have the capacity to supply the needed material.
Minister Patterson sought to provide some clarity to the matter.
Given the nature of funding for the project, the minister said, it is essential that delays and cost overruns be avoided. Hence, the decision to allow the import of stones by the Chinese contractor given the fact that adequate supplies were not available locally.
“To finish on schedule, the project required at least 15,000 tonnes per month, at best the suppliers whose product made the specifications were only supplying about 6,000 tonnes monthly, additionally the project needs about 250,000 tonnes overall,” Minister Patterson posted.
He assured that local stone producers were engaged prior to his permission being granted to the contractor for the stone import.
“It must be noted that while there are seven (7) stone producers countrywide, only three (3) had the capability at that time to produce the specified stone, of the three (3), the largest producer’s stone did not make the specifications (stone specifications do not only have to do with density but also size, moisture content, etc.). Interestingly, it was agreed by ALL, based on a recommendation by the stone producers to allow the contractor to import 50,000 tons of stones over a three-month period, this would have allowed the local producers to up their production (if possible) and seek to have their stone meet the required specifications (if possible), it would also allow the contractor to continue working without delay,” Minister Patterson’s post read.
This is not the first time local suppliers are complaining about being sidlined.
It was the same CHEC, back in 2016, that opted to import 300,000 tonnes of crushed stone from Suriname for the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) expansion.
Minister of Business, Dominic Gaskin, had said that due to the contractual terms of the agreement signed between the Government of Guyana and China, Guyana could not prevent the importation.
It is unclear if the agreement for the East Coast Demerara Road Expansion project also has these provisions.