• 04 Dec, 2022

VP says be vigilant against ‘shoddy work’ by contractors, but Kares wins new contract to build school

VP says be vigilant against ‘shoddy work’ by contractors, but Kares wins new contract to build school

VP says be vigilant against ‘shoddy work’ by contractors, but Kares wins new contract to build school

Dear Editor:  

I am trying to reconcile the headline, “VP says be vigilant against ‘shoddy work’ by contractors,” (GC, Sept. 4, 2022) with another headline that says, “NPTAB defends school contract award to Kares  - says it was lowest responsive bid” (SN, Sept. 3, 2022).   

In the USA, with federal funds, we always have to include a “debarment certification” that states we will not do business with companies that are on the debarment list. Is Guyana not following debarment procedures? Do we have a list? Which companies are on the list given so much shoddy work being done everywhere? Under the PPP, the Kares company was awarded a $728 million contract in 2012 to build the Kato Secondary School in Region 8. The PNC inherited this project when they got into Government in 2015.   

News headlines indicate that project suffered from poor performance by Kares. “Kato School was never certified by supervising firm” (KN, Aug. 6, 2016). “Kares Engineering will not escape – President says legal measures to recover cost for poor work on Kato Secondary” (GC, Aug. 11, 2016). “Kato School Contract sets bad precedent for KARES Engineering” (NR, Aug. 12, 2016). “No remedial works yet for defective Kato School” (GT, Sept. 20, 2016). “Education Ministry sends Special Projects Officer on leave as Kato School shabby construction probe begins” (NSG,  Nov. 8, 2016). “ $1B Kato school…Contractor faces Govt. wrath over shoddy work” (KN, Nov. 18, 2016 ). “$1B Kato Secondary School …Court action still on the books for Kares Engineering – Minister Patterson” (KN, Mar. 2, 2017). “Builder accused of bad work to repair Kato school defects  - proposed supervisor had been criticised over Supenaam stelling project” (SN, May 11, 2017).

The school started in 2012 but was not occupied after it was found to be riddled with major defects after construction ended in 2015. An audit found that the building was unsafe for children and that at least $144 million would be required to fix the defects. Kares was subsequently allowed to complete all corrective works on the school, at no cost to the government. It was clear there was substandard work, major structural defects, and project was not completed  on  time (7 years after work started).  Before remediation was done, the construction was deemed an “unsafe school.” This seems to be the type of company that will be on the debarment list.   

The $566.9 million dollar question is why was this company not placed on the debarment list and be ineligible to bid on rebuilding the section of the North Ruimveldt Secondary that was damaged? Can the VP, Ministers and NPTAB answer this question? If the company was not debarred, who screwed up? What type of things gets a company on the debarment list? If this company did not meet the criteria for debarment, pray tell us what gets debarment? From all the news reports, this company seems to be the poster child for unsatisfactory work in a $728 million contract. Now that the PPP is back, why is the Education Ministry defending the award of the new contract to this company, given the fiasco with the Kato School? I hope the Opposition will ask questions in Parliament about this new contract to Kares. Please also ask why all the infrastructural projects are costing so much money. What’s going on?  

How is it that the VP is saying we must be vigilant against shoddy infrastructural work in a citizen whistleblower way, and here we have a company that apparently did a bad job being rewarded by being given a new contract for over half a billion dollars? Can the VP or anyone explain this contradiction for the people of Guyana ? Does the Government think the masses are asses? If the VP is concerned about project quality, how about training folks in the Government’s “pretend work” jobs program to be “Quality Monitors” for all these contract work going on? That will be money well spent. One of the reasons for our ongoing poverty is that Government projects cost too much money, shoddy work is done, and we have to repeat the cycle over and over gobbling up resources and money. So we stay in persistent poverty while the Government’s contractor friends become filthy rich. Wake up Guyana!  

Sincerely,  

Dr. Jerry Jailall