While the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) is committed to constructing a new Demerara River Bridge, it has not decided which proposal it will consider. This was according to the newly appointed Public Works Minister, Bishop Juan Edghill, yesterday, when he met with the British High Commissioner, Greg Quinn and his deputy, Ray Davidson.
According to the minister, Quinn was curious about what the Ministry has planned for the Demerara Harbour Bridge, when Minister Edghill informed him that PPP/C government is committed to building the new bridge, but is not privy to the details of the works carried out by the previous administration. The Minister told the High Commissioner that the PPP/C “merely” saw the design.
The Minister said to Quinn: “We are committed to building a new Demerara River crossing so that is going to happen…I’m not sure which proposal we will be going with but…the location and feasibility, the former Minister Robeson Benn had done pre-feasibility that had shown three possible spots and one of the venues was right where the current bridge is.”
Robeson Benn – now Home Affairs Minister served as Public Works Minister prior to May 2015 when the Donald Ramotar government lost the General and Regional Elections to the A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance for Change (APNU+AFC) Coalition.
Benn, back in 2014, said his ministry was in possession of several proposals for the construction of the new bridge and that these would be vetted in order to identify the more feasible one.
He said that when the new bridge is completed, the current Demerara Harbour Bridge will be relocated. He suggested that it can be shifted to the Kurupakari or Puruni rivers or whichever other location is chosen.
The APNU+AFC administration, after it took office, said that it would be feasible to have the existing bridge untouched, and to construct another link somewhere in the vicinity of the 42-year-old link. The former government had commissioned a feasibility study, which was awarded to Dutch Company, LivenseCSO.
The awarding of that contract was marred in controversy, with the Auditor General Deodat Sharma flagging major breaches of Guyana’s financial laws.
The move by the Audit Office to “investigate” the project, came after the completion of an investigation by the Public Procurement Commission (PPC) in 2018. The PPC report made clear that there were indeed deviations from standard procurement procedures.
It was noted that several companies had submitted bids for the project, with 12 companies being shortlisted. The report added that only two of the 12 companies made proposals. As a consequence, the bidding process was annulled.
In November 12, 2016, the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board (NPTAB) approved the move for the project to be re-tendered, but that was not done. The company ultimately got the contract with cabinet’s blessings.