Gov’t engaging another bidder to build new Demerara River Bridge

-$21 B budgeted for preparatory works

Minister of Public Works, Bishop Juan Edghill said government is engaging a new bidder to construct the new Demerara River Bridge. This comes after negotiations with the first preferred bidder, China State Construction Engineering Corporation Ltd, bore little fruit.

Minister Edghill made the disclosure during the consideration of estimates for the public works ministry on Tuesday, following questions on the status of the project.

Minister of Public Works Bishop Juan Edghill

“Currently we are negotiating with the second ranked responsive bidder. Because negotiations are ongoing, disclosures on this matter would be very concerned and I will be very restrictive in what I say. But I can tell you negotiations are ongoing and the next meeting is tomorrow morning,” Minister Edghill stated.

Minister Edghill said the increase in cost for the construction of the bridge is one of the reasons why negotiations were terminated.

Questions were also asked on why $21 billion was budgeted for the project if the request for proposals include the preferred bidder financing the project.

In response, he said the PPP/C is committed to delivering the four-lane high span Demerara River bridge as promised to the people of Guyana. The minister said even though the bids include the companies financing the bridge, the money in the budget is to undertake preparatory works.

“The Government of Guyana has provided this sum to ensure that all the necessary things that need to be done when we engage the preferred bidder, our contribution to get that project kickstarted and for it to be built in two years, we are getting that done now.”

“This $21 billion that the Honourable member is asking about, I want to assure him and all the people of Guyana, it is to ensure at all cost we get the bridge, we get the best price and that the interest of Guyana is served when we finalise a contract with whoever will be doing the construction of this bridge,” Minister Edghill said.

He said with the development of any major project, there are people who could be displaced. While he did not give a specific sum, Minister Edghill noted that money is available for the relocation of persons.

This, he said, will be undertaken “using the law and fulfilling the constitutional provisions that if we have to acquire or compulsory acquire property, it will be in keeping with what the constitution says and at market value. We will not be denying anybody of their property, we will fulfill the constitution.”

The assurance was given by the Minister that when negotiations are concluded and an agreement is reached, all the terms and conditions will be made public. The construction of the bridge is expected to take two years when work commences.