— efforts to recover monies to be pursued
AFTER two years of delays, the Ministry of Public Works has moved to terminate the services of S. Maraj Contracting Services, the company contracted to rehabilitate the Leguan Stelling. In a statement to the media on Friday, subject minister, Juan Edghill, said that a thorough review of the project has determined that the company is “incapable, unable, and does not possess the wherewithal to successfully execute this project valued at $413,259,260.”
Since the contract was signed on September 20, 2018, under the previous administration, the contractor received payments totaling $199,435,000, which is almost 50 per cent of the overall contract sum. “[This] is outside of normal procurement practices and a breach of the Fiscal Management Accountability Act that can be best described as a corrupt transaction,” the minister noted, adding that actual works and materials on site are estimated at just about $100 million.
“A contract that should have been completed in six months, signed on September 20, 2018 received an advance payment on September 26, 2018 but the contractor only received his order to commence works on December 6, 2018,” Edghill lamented.
He further decried the fact that the Contractor was in possession of “tens of millions of tax payers’ dollars” for almost three months before he was required to begin work.
“This contract was expected to be completed by June 7, 2019. It is now 20 months beyond the completion date. By April 19, 2019, the advance payment bond as well as the performance bonds had expired,” the minister noted.
He said that by October 30, 2019, the contractor, having received the contract to build the stelling, used the argument of a faulty bill of quantities and earned himself an additional $20,650,000 for the supply and delivery of piles for the same Leguan stelling.
“It is inconceivable that a contract for the building of a stelling will not include the piles, one of the most important components for the construction of the stelling,” Edghill posited. He noted, too that the Auditor General has informed that at the time of the audit, the contractor was paid for measured works but there was no measured works break down were attached to the payment certificates.
Additionally, the Public Works Minister complained that variations and change of scope of works could not have been measured and quantified since no documents were available and submitted.
“It was clear that there was poor contract administration and oversight. The Auditor General has indicated that payments made in some instances were in breach of the Fiscal and Management Accountability Act,” Edghill emphasised.
He said that prior to contract termination, the contractor was engaged on four separate occasions. “I have therefore ordered that in keeping with the contractual terms that this contract be immediately terminated and any adverse consequences resulting from this must be placed squarely at the feet of the David Granger APNU+AFC administration with David Patterson and Annette Ferguson as the gazetted Ministers responsible.”
Edghill said that he regrets this abhorrent waste of tax payers’ money, and that the Attorney- General would be engaged to ensure the recovery of every dollar. “For the people of Leguan and Guyanese who have suffered, please be assured that every lawful procurement process will be taken to ensure that a contractor is engaged so that this stelling can be completed,” Edghill concluded.