Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Ramnarine calls for report

SIS Beetham contract

Energy Minister Kevin Ramnarine has requested a report from National Gas Company (NGC) on how it awarded a $1.6 billion contract to a consortium, which includes Super Industrial Services (SIS) Ltd, to construct the Beetham Water Recycling Plant.

The consortium of Foster Wheeler, SIS and Hyflux was one of two companies that submitted a bid for the Design & Build and Operation & Maintenance of the Beetham Water Recycling Plant, together with the associated Pipelines and Water Storage Facilities. 

The SIS consortium beat out Atlatec’s $95,224,643 bid, with a bid price of $160,755,329. 

The difference in bid price was $65,530,686.

NGC’s own estimate for the project was $149,999,000.

On Monday, Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley called on President Anthony Carmona to stop the contract, which he described as a classic case of bid-rigging.

Rowley disclosed that on February 27, Atlatec was advised by NGC that it had failed in its submission despite being cheaper than the SIS consortium bid. He said the other companies which had requested RFPs (requests for proposals) did not tender because of the limited time granted by NGC to submit the tender.

The Express understands that 14 companies had purchased tender documents from NGC and went on a site visit on September 27. They were given five weeks to submit a bid, which would have closed by October 28. However, due to the request of several companies, the deadline was extended to December 10. By then, only two companies had submitted tenders for the project, which were evaluated by NGC’s own Tenders Committee.

“I am meeting with NGC president (Indar Maharaj) and vice-chairman (Gordon Ramjattan) tomorrow morning. I have asked the company to submit a report to me that treats with the allegations made by Dr Rowley,” said Ramnarine in response to a query from the Express.

The State company falls under the Ministry of Energy and Energy Affairs.

On September 2, the NGC had issued RFPs for sole bidders (a main contractor with sub-contractors) for the Beetham Water Recycling Plant. The project was originally an initiative of the Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA).

WASA already operates the Beetham Wastewater Treatment Plant, which treats water for domestic use. 

In February 2012, WASA signed a US$246 million loan agreement with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) for local waste water management, which included water recycling for industrial use. 

At that time, Minister of the Environment and Water Resources Ganga Singh had said that water reused from the Beetham Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) would be directed to the Point Lisas Industrial Estate. 

NGC president Maharaj is also the chairman of WASA.

In September 2012, Maharaj had told the Express that WASA did not have the money to pursue the project so it was handed over to NGC.

Questioned then on why NGC was embarking on this project and not WASA, given the dual caps he wears, Maharaj said: “WASA is also involved to the extent that WASA will be buying the water from NGC. WASA does not have the money to invest in the project. All of these people who would be getting the water are NGC customers so it is also securing NGC’s business.”

He also dismissed the suggestion that there was a conflict of interest with him being the chairman of WASA and  president of NGC.

At that time, Rowley had called on Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar to halt what he described as an “incestuous scam” between WASA and NGC.

“It just so happens the chairman of WASA, Indar Maharaj, who is requesting the works, is also the CEO of NGC, who will be managing the tender process on behalf of WASA,” said Rowley who described the project as a “feeding trough” and called on the Government to stop the contract.