By Suraj Narine
Despite being blacklisted by several Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs), the Government of Guyana (GoG) will retain the services of the contractor, China Railway First Group (CRFG), to carry out additional works on the East Coast Demerara (ECD) Road Widening Project.
The company was debarred for engaging in fraudulent practices under the Dasu Hydropower Stage Project, in Pakistan. The barring makes CRFG ineligible to bid on future Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and World Bank Group-financed projects for the period of the debarment, which runs from September 17, 2019, to September 16, 2021.
At the end of a minimum period of 18 months of debarment, if CRFG has complied with the terms of the settlement agreement, it will be eligible to have its debarment converted to a conditional non-debarment for a further minimum period of six months.
Pubic Infrastructure Minister, David Patterson told the Guyana Standard, today, that the services of the company will have to be retained. He offered several justifications for this, which includes the fact that the debarment was done after the contract was awarded to the company.
He noted that the project is an “inherited” one, which the previous administration – the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) – had initiated prior to 2015. The project was put on hold after several concerns were raised by the Export and Import (EXIM) Bank of India – that is funding the project through a loan agreement – over the cost of the project. It was disclosed that the contract sum was relatively low.
The Coalition government after it assumed office in 2015, embarked on a process of “contract adjustment”, Patterson said, which saw the sum being increased by US$7M. Subsequently, works resumed.
The project is almost complete, and the government has now received the blessing of the EXIM bank to extend the scope of the works.
“I am pleased to announce that we recently received approval of the EXIM Bank of India to extend the loan. The undisbursed sum, we anticipate, that we will be able to get as far as Mahaica. My team has already done a design, so we will continue to widen the two-lane road all the way to Mahaica,” Patterson told the media during a conference this morning at his ministry in Kingston, Georgetown.
Initially, the works were slated to end at Belfield, however, with the additional funding, the works will extend further east towards Mahaica, and ultimately to Rosignol, Berbice. Funds for the latter works have already been secured from the Kuwait funds to conduct designs and other preliminary works that are needed, Patterson said.
“So that is a plan already in progress – not something that we have to do if we win [the elections],” he assured.
All of the aforementioned works come under the same loan; therefore, the company will have to be retained. Further to that, Patterson said that the work is merely an extension and not a new contract.
“At the time of the cross debarment, they would have already had a contract, an existing contract. They have performed quite well on this contract… And yes, the contract is with them. The excess money, the extra funding is from the EXIM Bank thorough the loan. And, so obviously, what we have is just a continuation to expend. It’s an extension, not a new contract,” he said.