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Gov’t restricting contractors to bid for new Demerara River Bridge

Government intends to limit the number of contractors who are bidding for the construction the new bridge over the Demerara River.

The Ministry of Public Infrastructure on Sunday put out an advertisement for public tendering for the project, even as it remains mum on the financing of the new bridge.

According to the advertisement, only three contractors will be shortlisted and requested to submit designs and offer a fixed price lump sum big for the design and construction of the bridge.

Experts who spoke with Citizens Report explained that the process should not be restricted and that all contractors must be given a fair chance to make proposals for this major public project.

The ad stated that the shortlisting of bidders shall be on the basis of the profile, track record, financial capacity as well as the merit of technical, cost and financing proposals.

Interestingly, the Government is inviting applicants to advance proposals for the financing of the project and has advised them on proposing a Built, Own, Operate, Transfer (BOOT) arrangement – as done under the PPP adminstration with the Berbice River Bridge.

Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo only recently raised a number of questions regarding the secrecy of this project, particularly as it relates to financing.

Jagdeo had explained that Government needs to disclose how it intends to finance the project, especially since it wants the construction to commence next year.

He warned that the financing of the project will majorly affect the fares commuters would have to pay – and expressed hope that Government opted for a plan that did not place significant debt on the treasury and would result in the most lenient possible fare structure.

Jagdeo had noted that government needs to be careful when negotiating a BOOT arrangement, if that’s the route it will take. He said they would have to take into consideration how the rate of return will impact the cost to travel over the bridge.

The selected location for the bridge is 2km north of the existing Demerara Harbour Bridge and it will son from Houston to Versailles.

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