Guyana saved over $500M on new ferry contract – Minister Edghill

─ savings will be invested in stellings at Morawhanna, Kumaka, Port Kaituma

Minister of Public Works, Hon. Bishop Juan Edghill said the award of a US$12.7 million ($2.6 billion) contract to Garden Reach Shipbuilders Engineers Limited (GRSEL) for an ocean-going passenger and cargo vessel for the Barima-Waini (Region One) has saved Guyana US$2.8 million ($588 million).

Minister of Public Works, Hon. Bishop Juan Edghill

The savings would be invested in the construction of new stellings at Morawhanna, Kumaka and Port Kaituma in Region One.

Minister Edghill made these revelations in a Letter to the Editor published in the Sunday Stabroek. His letter was in response to a statement made on Friday, January 15, by his predecessor, Mr. David Patterson, on the contract awarded to GRSEL on Wednesday January 13. The Minister said the only other bidder, Shoft Shipyard Private Limited’s (SSPL) priced tender for the vessel was US$15.3 million (over $3 billion).  

In his letter, Minister Edghill denounced Mr. Patterson’s assertions, while noting that the President Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali’s administration would not accept nor tolerate mediocrity.

“The proposed contract Patterson left when he omitted office in 2020 was not the same contract the Government of Guyana penned. Therefore, the statement issued by Patterson is rendered null and void. Patterson clearly is looking for political popularity at this time. Further Editor, because of Patterson’s lack of knowledge on the newly penned contract, we wish to enlighten the former minister with the facts,” he said.

Minister Edghill explained that the project was stalled for almost two years as the previous Government failed to secure India Exim Bank’s no objection to the award of the contract for the new ferry.

However, over the past four months, the PPP/C Administration negotiated a contract with GRSEL that meets every specification of the second round of Tender.

“Had Patterson been in Government today, the people of Guyana would have been paying US$2.8M more for less. Yes, you read correctly. But, not under my watch. Editor, I assure the people of Guyana that they will be getting more for less,” Minister Edghill said in his letter.

He said the design-build nature of the contract would provide the Ministry with the opportunity to review and approve every plan or drawing submitted by GRSEL before construction of the vessel commences. It also provides for the Transport and Harbours Department to travel to India periodically to carry out inspections of the vessel before payments are disbursed to the shipbuilder.  Additionally, the training of pilots, engineers and other crew members on the navigational, safety and other aspects of the new vessel was also included in the project.

The new vessel will ensure that future travels to the Northwest District and other parts of Guyana are faster, safer and more efficient.  Moreover, the vessel would be modern and built according to the American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) Classification Society and will meet every single requirement for maritime operations. 

Funding for the ferry was sourced through a $3.6 billion combined grant and line of credit from the Government of India.

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