Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Why are there so many sole bids?

Kaieteur News Letter to the Editor, Wednesday 26 August 2009 - "Why are there so many sole bids?" -

Dear Editor,
I note with amazement that quite recently, there have been a lot of single bids. It is as though there is a game going on in the tendering circle. It is as if the various contractors have marked off their territory.
I do not want to believe that things have reached the stage where Guyana has been partitioned into lots with various contractors having exclusive rights to certain tenders.
I do not want to believe that one contractor will have exclusive rights to sea defence works, another for road works, another for bridges, another for kokers, another for schools repairs, one for the construction of new schools, and one for hospitals. But this seems to be the case. If a contract pops for something they all seem to know that they should not compete against the other.
If this is the case then in some areas many have failed although given a free reign. The construction of the new Ministry on High Street is just an example. One got the job and cannot complete it. Perhaps this is why the contracts are so high so as to allow contractors a lot of latitude.
I say this because I noticed for some time that there is a single contractor for the roads programme. In the past there would be BK International and Courtney Benn Contracting Services. BK, with more equipment would do the major roads and Benn appeared to have the monopoly on the smaller roads like some in the city.
BK International also seems to have a monopoly on the sea defence projects these days although not so long ago there were others making a bid for such projects. But this could be understood since large projects demand a certain level of sophistication in equipment.
As an engineer I know and I have been coming to Guyana from time to time. I have visited projects and I have seen what happens, sometimes with sadness in my heart.
However, my major concern is about those projects that have to do with procurement. At one time the government would have done its own procurement and at a cheaper cost than to involve a middle man.
In every case, be it procurement for pump stations, public transport as we knew it then, equipment for the medical institutions and pharmaceuticals, the government kept a tight rein on these things. It sourced these things using the people in its employ. I lived in Guyana during those days.
The government procured generators for Guyana Power and Light as recently as a few months ago when it started its expansion programme. The new Kinston Power Station is just one case in point. The generators, when the nation was experiencing a serious generation shortfall, came in as a direct result of President Bharrat Jagdeo’s intervention. I follow these issues online.
I now wonder at the shift that allows a solitary bidder to import drainage components on behalf of the government. Only one person bids for those contracts - Harrychand Tulsie. Is it that he is the only person with access to the suppliers of drainage pumps?
Your newspaper was also able to access the suppliers, and Sir I hasten to say that I have been able to do the same with a query of my own. In these days of computers, the simple Google search engine affords anyone a chance to access suppliers in any part of the world.
As a friend jokingly told me, there must be only one pumper in Guyana. The government must explain why it relinquished procurement of such equipment. There is a procurement board. What are its functions?
Sadly, the government does not answer questions, but these are simple questions that should be answered.
Dexter Fordyce
Engineer and Guyanese
Belmont, Wisconsin

No comments: