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Suruj ramb

Suruj blasts Govt over highway

FORMER Works and Infrastructure Minister Dr Surujrattan Rambachan has berated the government for shutting down the Solomon Hochoy Highway extension to Point Fortin saying arrangements had been made for its completion at its original budgeted price of $7.5 billion.

“There was no need whatsoever to shut down this project,” Rambachan said, adding, “in fact, just before we left office, OAS and NIDCO had gotten into an agreement, and in this agreement, OAS was going to use what you call nominated sub-contractors in order to complete the job and arrangements were made between NIDCO, OAS and the sub-contractors as to what prices they were going to be paid to complete segments of the highway which would have ensured that the highway did not cost more than the original budgeted sum, overall 7.5 billion dollars.” In a telephone interview, Rambachan also pointed out that approximately 63.1 percent of the project had been completed while the amount of money paid to OAS was 3.9 billion dollars and which was equivalent to the amount of work completed. “I cannot see, no matter how much I try where this 10 billion dollars is now coming from,” he said, adding, “and it is obvious to me that what is happening here is that the government in shutting down the project, what they have done is put an increased burden upon the country to have this project completed.” Meanwhile, a source close to the project said approximately 49 percent of the highway’s physical construction had been completed though pointed out that because the highway was a ‘design and build’ project, overall completion was between 59-60 percent. The source said this would include utility removals, removal of houses within the highway’s route and geo-technical studies.

Meanwhile, Rambachan disputed that the Brazilian contractor had been overpaid saying whatever advance monies had been paid to the contract was “fully secured’ with the appropriate legal documentation.

Meanwhile, local contractor William Ashby said contractors had not been paid since August 2015 for works done on the highway project. He also noted that no discussion had been held on the way forward regarding the highway’s completion. Works Minister Fitzgerald Hinds had stated previously that he intends to complete the highway.

NEWSDAY 

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