Overloaded contractors, limited resources hinder timely execution – Patterson

first_img…to address problem with private sectorAs contractors continue to rake in contracts in abundance, considered significantly beyond their resource capacity, national projects continue to move at a snail’s pace or be stalled.Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson at a recent news conference said this is a grave situation that requires urgent attention if the country is to move forward smoothly infrastructure wise.In fact, he plans to meet with the private sector to conduct extensive discussions on this matter with the hopes of arriving at an amicable solution which will be beneficial to both parties.“There are contractors and individuals complaining about the award of contracts, several contracts awarded since June, the contractors received mobilisation but no physical presence is there on site…in contacting them, they (the contractors) would say they have challenges, that they have more than one contract and they have limited resources…yet they continue to bid,” Patterson explained, noting that these circumstances have been in existence for decades and could be the reason the infrastructural works in the country developed a reputation for progressing slowly.Patterson noted however that finding a solution will definitely be challenging since it is in the contractor’s best interest to pursue as many contracts as possible and since there is no law that limits how many one entity can bid for: “We have to address this problem and I intend to meet the private sector.”When prompted, Patterson explained that the ministry cannot cancel the contract if the contractors still have a period in which they can complete the project.“When I call the contractors and engineers in, they said we will finish, we still have a month-and-a-half. Obviously you can’t terminate until a contractual issue has been breached,” he stated.Patterson just recently announced that the ministry has been facing major setbacks which have resulted in delays in the implementation of several projects.He reported that there are several foreign funded projects, that to date have not been moving as fast as the ministry had anticipated.These include the PUP, under the European Union/Inter-American Development Bank (EU/IDB), which was budgeted for some $2 billion.The second largest project is the East Bank Berbice road where some $1.4 billion is budgeted.According to the minister, tenders are out for the project; however, the ministry is awaiting the ‘no-objection’ from the relevant bodies. The continuation of the East Coast highway, funded by the China Exim bank, is also undergoing some major setbacks.He said too that he was unable to give a timeline as to when the project will commence and the amount that will be expended.The fourth largest project is the West Bank Demerara highway, a US$2 million project that is currently 40 per cent completed.Another major reason for the setback of these projects is the inadequacy of engineers under the employ of the Public Infrastructure Ministry.Patterson informed there is a major difficulty in hiring qualified engineers. He noted that even graduate engineers seem uninterested in working with the ministry owing to the inadequate remuneration package.Particularly, the minister noted that the difficulty lies in getting engineers to work in the hinterland.He lamented that engineers are unwilling to work in those areas despite the fact that housing, transportation and other expenses are provided by the State.last_img read more