…consultant was not fully paid for botched project – NDIA
The contractor at the centre of a row over works done on the $978 million contract for the construction of a pump station at Black Bush Polder, Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne), will be made to stand all the costs for corrective work on the botched project, for which their contract was terminated.
National Drainage and Irrigation Authority’s (NDIA) acting Chief Executive Officer Dave Hicks, in a missive on Tuesday, responded to assertions being made in the public domain, that the botched project will end up costing taxpayers millions.
Further, Hicks denied that Innovative Engineering, the consultant that designed and supervised the works, was fully paid. While Innovative Engineering was certainly paid for the completed design, Hicks noted that they are still owed some money for the supervisory aspect of the project.
“The cost to be incurred for corrective works would be borne by the contractor. The contractor will only be paid for works executed in accordance with the specifications under the contract after a valuation is completed. As such, the claim about the financial implications on taxpayers is a fallacy,” the NDIA CEO said.
“Therefore, the claims of $21M and $38M, respectively, to be paid and will be spent are spurious. Factually, since the termination of the Black Bush Polder pump station project, the NDIA has taken control of the site and all materials on site are being checked meticulously by the consultants/auditor and placed on a list. All materials are then taken to a safe location where they are being cross-checked by the auditor.”
As of now, according to NDIA, a final cost that will be incurred is currently being determined between the authority’s technical personnel and the consultant. Additionally, Hicks stressed that no further monies have been paid to the contractor, nor will they be paid, until the project is completed.
The NDIA boss further contended that terminating the contract was “necessary and unavoidable” and questioned why letters are being written defending the contractor when steps had to be taken by the Government to protect taxpayers’ money.
“There was a failure of the concrete compressive strength test, the slothfulness of the contractor to execute works coupled with a number of other technical issues which led to termination. It is indeed surprising and shortsighted of one of the missives in insinuating support for a contractor doing faulty works.”
“Further, why are these missives supporting a delinquent contractor when the termination was a necessity rather than complimenting the Hon Minister of Agriculture for taking such a stance since taxpayers’ money would be saved. Why wasn’t the same position taken by the writer when “fire pumps” were being procured by the past Administration? It seems as though the writer has a hidden agenda.”
NDIA had revealed last month that the $978 million contract for a pump station in Black Bush Polder had been terminated the month prior for “poor quality and performance of works being executed”. Further, NDIA had said that the project would be retendered.
One of the assertions that were made by Opposition Member of Parliament Ganesh Mahipaul at the time, was that concrete should have been poured over steel rods in the foundation of the project. He had claimed that terminating the contract would cost taxpayers $38 million.
However, Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha had debunked this recommendation as not being technically sound, since the experts have advised that the entire structure will have to be replaced. Further, he had said that as per the contract, the contractor would only be paid for works “satisfactorily completed”.
Pumps play a critical role in preventing floods and are especially important for rice cultivation in Black Bush Polder. It had been reported late last year that even as rice farmers were preparing their lands for next crop, they were facing challenges with replanting, since several pumps that supply farmers with water were inoperable.
The Ministry of Agriculture received $33.2 billion in Budget 2023. A contract for a pump station at Black Bush Polder was among the several contracts totalling $2.7 billion that were signed in October 2021, by agencies within the Agriculture Ministry. (G3)