Haags Bosch fiasco… IDB wants BK Int’l dumped
REGIONAL multilateral financial institution, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) is refusing to continue funding the Haags Bosch Sanitary Landfill (HBSL) project until the contractor for the operation, Brian Tiwari of BK International Inc., is removed.This startling revelation was made yesterday by Minister of Communities, Ronald Bulkan, in an exclusive interview with this publication.
Minister Bulkan said the financial institution is “dissatisfied and unhappy” with the delivery of services provided by BK International.
The HBSL project which commenced some four years ago has had a fragmented execution process, with the contractor routinely failing to meet a number of deadlines – the last proposed date being November 15, 2014, as was promised by then Local Government Minister, Norman Whittaker.
Signed in 2007, the then Government of Guyana (GoG) and the IDB had entered a loan agreement to finance the estimated US$20 million Haags Bosch Sanitary Landfill (HBSL) Project. Despite being signed in 2007 however, the project was not operationalised until the latter part of 2011. Construction giant, BK International, supported by Puran Brothers Disposal Services was awarded a US$9.7M contract whereby the two entities were tasked with constructing the landfill and operating the site over a five to nine-year period.
Initially, the bank had commenced disbursing the resources from 2007 with the expectation of the project being completed within five years. But not limited to financing, the IDB has also been providing training and capacity-building skills to those persons managing the project.
According to the Government at that time, the project entailed provision for: * Institutional strengthening and capacity-building. * Public awareness and community participation. * Construction and operation of the Haags Bosch Sanitary Landfill. * Waste- collection and disposal from NDCs. * Treatment and disposal of hazardous waste. Prior to the minister’s announcement yesterday, there were unconfirmed reports which suggested that a number of discrepancies were discovered by the IDB. This has reportedly aided in a deviation from the plan of seeing a successful completion of the project on the part of the IDB. However, the Communities Minister clarified yesterday that this was not the case and it was in fact that the funding agent which in this case is the IDB, is “dissatisfied and unhappy” with the contractor’s quality of work, which has resulted in the financial body withholding additional funds, until he is removed. High on the agenda therefore is seeking avenues to “get the current contractor off the site,” the minister noted, while adding that the Government of Guyana is currently in discussion with him (BK). “We had a meeting with him at the AG’s Chambers a week ago and discussed how we could effect that,” Bulkan revealed. But according to the Minster, they remain “hopeful” that they will “arrive at a stage where the contractor removes himself from the site.” But prior to these developments, Bulkan disclosed that the then Local Government Ministry had written to the contractor, requesting that he vacate the site, but was greeted with an active response from Mr. Tiwari who moved to the courts and sought to stay that action for the ministry to show just cause why they should terminate his contract. Initiating litigation, as was described by Bulkan, was not wise of BK since according to the minister, “he was not in fulfilment with a lot of the requirements that he was expected to deliver.” “I think he’s in an exposed and vulnerable situation of why the past administration never saw it fit to actually initiate litigation against him and why they were so tolerant,” the minister related. Furthermore, he said that both institutions – the ministry and the bank are unhappy with the conditions that obtain at what is now a dumpsite, when it was meant to be a landfill site. Additionally, the site was described as one having “no environmental safeguards, an environmental hazard and a ticking time bomb.” Inasmuch as this current state exists, the minister assured this publication that they are working assiduously to remedy the situation in an effort to bring back the operation at the site in conformity with how it was originally designed. It was reported in 2013 that the sanitary landfill which was initially designed to facilitate 6,000 tonnes of solid waste per month was processing in excess of 10,000 tonnes per month, while its construction was still a work in progress. Intended to last for 26 years, the rate of usage at the facility had projected a significantly reduced lifespan. The landfill is expected to facilitate garbage disposal from Georgetown and some 15 Neighbourhood Democratic Councils (NDCs).
By Ravin Singh