New Demerara River bridge feasibility study– PPP/C calls for investigation, lodges complaint over breach of procurement lawsThe Opposition People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) has lodged a formal complaint with the Public Procurement Commission (PPC), calling for an investigation into the selection and award of a $146 million contract to Dutch firm LievenseCSO, for the feasibility study on the new Demerara River crossing/bridge.Opposition Chief Whip Gail TeixeiraIn a letter to PPC Chairperson Carol Corbin, Opposition Chief Whip Gail Teixeira outlined that the company did not tender for the project, but yet it was awarded the multimillion-dollar contract.“I, therefore, call on the Public Procurement Commission under Article 212 AA (1) (a), (c), (d), (g), (i), and (j) of the Guyana Constitution to immediately investigate the process and procedures used for the bidding, selection and the Award of Tender to a company, LievenseCSO, that did not tender for the consultancy of the feasibility study and designs of a new Demerara River crossing,” Teixeira said in her letter to the PPC head, which was dated September 18, 2017.An artist’s impression of what the new ‘curved’ bridge across the Demerara River will look likeThe Opposition Chief Whip detailed that back in January last year, it was reported that some 22 companies responded to a public advertisement and submitted Expressions of Interest for a Consultancy for the Feasibility Study and Designs of a new Demerara River Crossing.She cited media reports saying that the Public Infrastructure Ministry’s Chief Works Officer, Geoffrey Vaughn, disclosed that the Ministry had already evaluated the tenders and handed over the list to the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board (NPTAB) for processing.Teixeira went on to outline that it was also reported “on December 8, the National Procurement Tender Administration opened the bids from seven European and four Chinese companies which signalled their interests. Several other overseas companies have applied for the contract, some in partnership with local firms”.The 22 companies were listed as: Politechnica Ingeneria Architecture (Italy) in association with Marcelle Gaskin and Associates of Guyana; Hewson Consulting Engineers of the United Kingdom; COWI of Denmark; IPRO Consulting from Germany; Egis of France; Mott Mc Donald of the United Kingdom in association with SRK Engineering and Consulting; Netherlands-based Ballast Nedam; China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC); China Railway First Group; Zhejiang Provincial Institute of Communications, Planning, Design and Research; China Shandong International Economic and Technology Competition Group Limited; Rites Limited India; VIKAB Enterprises of Trinidad and Tobago; CFE in association with NV Rustwijk and Rustwijk of Suriname; WSP Caribbean Limited from Trinidad; MMM Group of Canada in association with CEMCO of Guyana; SENER of South Africa; Stantec (Japan) in association with Pedelta; Proficenter from Brazil; Stuart Consulting Group along with Rahmad and Associates from the United States; CBCL Ltd from Nova Scotia, Canada; and Guyana-based Stunning Nisi Inc.According to the Opposition Chief Whip, the media reported back in November that Minister of State, Joseph Harmon had announced that LievenseCSO was selected by the NPTAB to do the feasibility study for the new Demerara River crossing.“However, you will note that this company, LievenseCSO, was not listed as one of the 22 companies which submitted Expressions of Interest in December 2015 as reported by the media,” she stated.On this note, Teixeira reminded the Commission that part of Guyana’s international obligations under the Inter-American Convention against Corruption was to ensure that there were transparency and accountability in order to enhance public trust and confidence, particularly in respect to the public procurement process.Therefore, she continued, access to information, and the availability and accessibility of information, with regard to Government procurement is critical to this objective; hence, PART 11 Section 4 (1) (3)-(6) of the Regulations 2004 (as amended in 2010), provides for the posting on the National Procurement Tender Administration (NPTA) website (www.npta.gov.gy) information and minutes of the opening of the bids, the awards of tenders, protests, etc.However, the Opposition Chief Whip pointed out that there were no records with regard to this bid opening on either the NPTA or the Finance Ministry websites. She added that there was also no record on the NPTAB website with regard to the Award of Tender to LievenseCSO in November 2016 or any other date as announced by Minister Harmon on November 24, 2016.“There is no evidence that the original tender was terminated and a new one introduced nor any evidence that the tender had been amended and new Expressions of Interest sought. The fact that as of April 26, 2016, one company seemed to be in the running and then seven months later another company that never tendered is awarded the contract is highly suspect. Therefore, there has been no transparency with regard to this bid, the selection and award of the Consultancy for the Feasibility Study and Designs for the new Demerara River crossing to LievenseCSO,” she stated.According to the Opposition Chief Whip, the lack of transparency on this award, its contents and costs are not only “alarming and a travesty”, but are in violation of the Procurement Act, in particular Section 11 (1) and (2), and its Regulations. The recent announcement by the Government of the findings of the feasibility study in August 2017 has brought attention to these violations.Teixeira went on to say that the fact that the Public Infrastructure Ministry was going ahead with the tender for the Prequalification of Contractors to Finance, Design, Build and Maintain the new Demerara River bridge further compounds and continues these violations.As such, the Opposition Chief Whip urges that, “…the PPC should also immediately examine the new tender posted for the Prequalification of Contractors for the Finance, Design, Build and Maintain [of] the new Demerara River bridge and monitor the entire process of bidding, evaluation and selection of the contractor(s) to ensure that the Procurement Act and Regulations are strictly adhered to.