GEORGETOWN – The Parliamentary Opposition is questioning Government over contracts to repair sections of the Camp Street prison, following a deadly fire and the prisoner escapes earlier this year.
According to the People’s Progressive Party (PPP), there is no published evidence of which contractor was awarded and little word from the Ministry of Public Infrastructure (MPI).
“Ministry of Public Infrastructure, through its Public Relations Officer, has admitted that the tender process for emergency works at the Georgetown Prisons, relative to the construction of administrative blocks, was annulled.”
The early July fire was believed to be deliberately set to allow prisoners to escape. One of them was a mass killing suspect who is still on the run.
The fire caused major damage to the prisons. The subsequent relocation of the prisoners to the Lusignan facilities spurred a decision by the Government to fix the administrative blocks at the prison to ease overcrowding at Lusignan and other holding facilities across the country.
The PPP wants to know about the contracts to fix the administrative blocks at Camp Street. The Opposition, in its statement, disclosed that MPI annulled the tenders to allow for the project to fall under the relevant ministry- the Ministry of Public Security.
The MPI would have been responsible for technical support.
The Opposition said that the admission of the annulment is further evidence that the Government is involved as it relates to the proclivity to annul tenders and flaunt procurement procedures. The annulment has raised even more questions.
“How was it that the Ministry of Public Infrastructure went as far as to invite contractors to submit bids, before realising that it was taking on works and spending money budgeted under the Ministry of Public Security? A total of 20 companies were shortlisted from a pre-qualification process. All 20 companies were informed of this on July 25, in a letter from the Public Infrastructure Ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Geoffrey Vaughn.”
According to the Opposition, the companies were then invited to conduct a ‘mandatory’ site visit on July 27, 2017, by the Ministry of Public Infrastructure.
“The companies were given one day, the deadline being July 28, 2017, to respond and indicated their intention to bid for the works. The companies were informed that they then had two days after the site visit (the deadline being July 31, 2017 at 11:00hours) to deliver sealed bids to the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board (NPTAB).
The July 27, 2017 site visit was then rescheduled by the Ministry’s Work Services Group Manager, for Procurement and Contracts, Philip Bryan.”
However, in an email to the 20 companies, Bryan explained that the site visit was now fixed for July 28, 2017.
However, following his July 25, 2017 letter, Vaughn, on July 28, 2017, wrote again to the bidders saying, “The Ministry regrets to inform you that a decision was taken by the executing agency to annul this bid.”
PPP pointed out that all of this occurred, before the tender process was annulled.
“The Guyanese people would recall that during the consideration of Financial Paper, 2/ 2017, the matter of Minister Patterson answering questions as it related to capital works budgeted under the Ministry of Public Security was raised by the political Opposition. Is it gross incompetence? Is Patterson admitting to incompetence? Or is this a manifestation of a poorly disguised attempt to cover up an act of corruption?”
PPP said that the annulment also places Minister of Public Security, Khemraj Ramjattan, under the spotlight.
“None of the substantial questions raised by the political Opposition about the works at the Georgetown Prison have been answered. All that we have seen are excuses that not only raise questions about Minister Patterson’s competence, as we have pointed out, but now leave Minister Ramjattan in the proverbial ‘hot seat’.”
Among other things, the Opposition said it wants to know what tender process was used to award the contract for the works at the administrative building at the Georgetown Prisons.
“Who is the contractor that was engaged? What is the cost of the contract? What technical support was provided by the Public Infrastructure Ministry and what role MPI played in the evaluation of the tenders?”
PPP noted that the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board website gives no information on any bid process involving the Ministry of Public Security and the works at the Georgetown Prison in question. The Ministry of Public Security’s website also details no information, save for a September 26, 2017 tender for works at the other prisons.
“While the Public Infrastructure Ministry’s response attempted, futilely, to discredit the concerns raised by the political Opposition, the fact remains that Patterson continues to avoid core and substantive issues, in the face of serious concerns as it relates to the rule of law, adherence to the procurement laws and about corrupt acts.”