Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Delayed $400M conservancy project now hinges on World Bank

Kaieteur News news item, Tuesday 27 October 2009 - "Delayed $400M conservancy project now hinges on World Bank" - http://www.kaieteurnewsonline.com/2009/10/27/delayed-400m-conservancy-project-now-hinges-on-world-bank/

By Gary Eleazar

The $400M funded World Bank Project that involves works to be carried out on the East Demerara Water Conservancy was at one time placed on hold because of the fact that the lone bidder had submitted a bid that was over inflated.

A Hymac undertakes remedial works in the conservancy

A Hymac undertakes remedial works in the conservancy

Today that project hinges on a renewed proposal to that bank.

According to Minister of Agriculture, Robert Persaud, ever since the cancellation of the bid that is in keeping with the Procurement Guidelines established by the World Bank and the Government of Guyana, his Ministry has requested the reformulation of the Pre- Investment Studies in light of the current situation that obtains with respect to climate change and the country’s Drainage and Irrigation Master plan.

Persaud, in an interview with this newspaper, disclosed that his Ministry has provided all the technical information relevant to the project.

“We had undertaken a number of works in the Conservancy under the NDIA (Hope Canal Project) and the World Bank Technical Team has since reviewed and resubmitted Terms of Reference that only includes the work that needs to be done but has not been completed.”

He did emphasise that it should be noted that by completing these works NDIA has effected cost savings on the Project.

“This means that the likelihood of having a successful bidder has increased significantly because of the intervention of the government.”

According to Persaud, NDIA has since received the document and he was informed that the review is complete and will be forwarded to the Bank for Final review and No-Objection yesterday.

He stated that the Tender document and the Expression of Interest have already been prepared simultaneous and once the No Objection is received, “we will be launching the EOI and then the Calls for Proposals before the end of the Year.”

“In my view, the World Bank can move quickly to assist in early implementation,” Persaud said. The World Bank approved grant funding for the project some two years ago. The Conservancy has been a source of grave concern recently, given unusual periods of heavy rainfall.

When the conservancy, which holds water to irrigate farmlands during the dry season, is overwhelmed, it threatens the integrity of the dam, which, if compromised could cause widespread flooding on the heavily populated East Coast Demerara.

In recent years, during the rainy season when the water built up in the Conservancy, the government has had cause to release the water into the Mahaica and Mahaicony Rivers, flooding out the farming communities along the rivers.

Some residents have had to abandon their homes and farmlands and have taken up housing offered by Food for the Poor. The World Bank, on October 11, 2007, approved what it called ‘The Conservancy Adaptation Project’, for overall, US$3.8 million.

The project aims at strengthening the government’s and donor understanding of the EDWC system and coastal drainage patterns through the integration of advanced mapping and engineering analysis.

The project also aims at implementing infrastructure investments to improve drainage performance, to strengthen the institutional capacity for managing water and floodwater levels, and to guide interventions to reduce Guyana’s vulnerability to floods.

According to Minister Persaud, after the Request for Proposals was closed for Component 1 of the project, which involved the pre-investment studies for the engineering design of works, one tender was received.

He indicated that the evaluation committee recommended that the tender be annulled since the Bidder exceeded the set budgeted price by more than 100 per cent.

Accordingly, the tender has since been reformulated and will be launched internationally shortly.

He noted that World Bank is financing the development of the technical foundation for a master plan of future interventions within Conservancy and lowland drainage systems, as well as specific upgrading works and operational improvements aimed at enhancing the flood control capacity of the EDWC.

“The tools developed under the analytical component will be used by the (government) and donor agencies to guide future investments,” Persaud stated.

The objective of Phase One is to provide the hydrologic baseline necessary for contemplating rational interventions aimed at increasing the current discharge capacity of the flood control system.

The Conservancy system includes a reservoir, fronted by an earthen dam; drainage channels, used to release excess water from the reservoir during the rainy season; and a network of canals used to provide drinking water and irrigation during the dry seasons.

Because of this system, farmers are able to realise two harvests of sugar cane and rice annually.

The drainage relief structures were created to protect the EDWC dam from overtopping and collapsing during rainy seasons.

As the sea levels rise, the hydraulic head between the EDWC water control structures and sea outlets is significantly reduced. The smaller head reduces both the flow rate and discharge window available to discharge excess water from the system.

In addition, sea level rise has shortened the discharge window for the coastal plain. At present, flood control is managed on an emergency basis and control efforts focused on responding to immediate needs rather than the development of long-term control strategies.

This system of flood control is no longer effective and there are limitations on the ability to manage water levels in the coastal plain and prevent flooding.

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