The thick jungle messed up FIP's project.
This is an article in Kaieteur news.
Govt., Synergy Holdings fighting over ‘junk’ equipment
February 4, 2012 | By KNews | Filed Under News
-former senior employees relate horror stories about road project
The matter before the High Court involving Makeshwar ‘Fip’ Motilall of Synergy Holdings Inc and the
Controversial Contractor Makeshwar ‘Fip’Motilal
Attorney General has been postponed until Tuesday as the Attorney General Anil Nandlall is out of the jurisdiction.
But this has not quelled the brewing controversy over Motilall’s failed project.
Some of Motilall’s former employees are now relating horror stories about the working conditions they endured while working on the road to Amaila Falls.
The equipment for which the two entities namely Synergy Holdings Inc (Motilall) and the Government are battling over have been described as ‘junk’ by senior personnel flown in from the US and attached to Synergy Holdings to satisfy the contractual obligations to the Government.
The equipment that Motilall had brought into the country was all bought using the advance US$1.5M along with a second advance of US$750,000 which was to be later deducted.
Motilall had only conceded to using some of the US$1.5M to purchase equipment and to ship them to Guyana.
The equipment purchased is said to value the same amount as the shipping costs.
The alleged faulty equipment has been blamed by the overseas experts for several accumulative months of delays as almost each day some of the equipment had broken down.
It was pointed out to this publication that most of the mileage on the machines was over 300,000 hours.
Most of the equipment are said to be more than a decade old, “ready to be discarded for salvage or scrap….Trucks, excavators, bull dozers broke down almost daily.”
It was said that “You could not plan for anything…there was always the fear that the machine working one day would become nonoperational next day.”
A former employee of Synergy Holdings also said that all of the equipment was old.
According to the source, two excavators had to be abandoned after they became stuck in swampland.
“He had third hand and fourth hand equipment. The bulldozers and the ‘alligator’ trucks used to break down. He had no new equipment; even the pickups were old.
“He had a mechanic but he got fed-up because he had to be moving from one place to the next to fix equipment that break down.
Another piece of Synergy Holdings Inc Equipment
According to the source, the firm’s managers were forced to abandon two excavators that were stuck deep in swampland last year.
“The two excavators still in the swamp. They had to be discarded because it would have cost too much to try to pull them out.
Experts say that the equipment have all outlived their usefulness on large scale projects such as the access road that Synergy Holdings Inc had been contracted to undertake.
This publication has also learnt that the equipment that Motilall had secured for the project was never adequate and further even if there is enough equipment and contractors, given the scope of the works, the April deadline was certainly unrealistic.
The expert told this publication that at best with optimum weather and resources the project can be completed by next October.
The existing schedule prepared by Synergy Holdings Inc illustrates various activities but are all unrelated to each other,” according to the expert that this publication spoke with.
“It was basically a bar chart that had no relation to the work breakdown structures for the whole project…Each activity was shown being independent, the entire project was to be wrapped up in the latter part of March, 2012…The schedule was in fact a testament to the incompetence of Synergy,” according to one of the former construction managers who was flown in from Florida.
Motilall is said to also have worked his way through at least five construction managers in a four month period, all of whom have severed ties with Synergy Holdings Inc.
Each of the Construction managers is reportedly owed significant sums of money; some as much as US$50,000.
The first construction manager is said to have stayed for only three weeks, while another, Louis Espinoza, refused to live at the site due to the poor living conditions.
A broken down Synergy Holdings Inc branded truck
John Kassim, the fourth manager, stayed for a month but returned to the United States as a result of the faulty equipment, poor management and non-payment.
“My problem with the project was the outdated equipment, lack of fuel and Synergy owner’s (Motilall) total failure to understand the project,” said one of the Construction managers who added also that, “There was no defined goal…The equipment brought to complete the job were not up to the standard needed to work in a remote region.”
It was said too that “There was no fuel…There was no coordination with the field….The field staff had no hard copies of plans they could look for review or construction.”
One of the sectors besieged with problems for the contractor Motilall was Section Number Two, which cuts through wetlands but because of Motilall’s insistence on cutting corners the road was not built to a satisfactory height.
Motilall insisted that the road be built 18 inches above the land level as per his contract but, according to the experts, given the nature of the soil, should there be one heavy rainfall in that section of the road it will inevitably be washed away.
“It has to be built higher because of the nature and density of the soil there.”
On the same section Number Two, fuel was said to always be in short supply for the project.
“My assessment of the equipment requirement meant we needed about 250 gallons per day for the work to run the Sector Number Two smoothly…That quantity of fuel was never delivered to the site…We would receive about 250 gallons per week.”
It was pointed out also that “on many occasions, we did not have enough fuel to run basic camp equipment like the water pump or the generator needed for the night…The project never had a regular supply of fuel…The owner never brought the adequate amount.”
The owner of Synergy is not a civil engineer and according to the experts that he had hired to undertake works in Guyana, he “has never built a road before.”
In an effort to point out Motilall’s shortcomings as a contractor, one of his former construction managers related for this publication that, “for a road of this nature and magnitude, the contract is always split with at least three contractors…This is because of the manpower and equipment required for different work phases -bridges and roads.”
Motilall, the owner of Synergy “could never fathom this difference and the inherent lack of knowledge and experience became evident in the way the road was managed.”
The expert said that, “Any experienced road engineer knows that when you start building a road, you start from the first point (in our case, Sector Number ) and work your way through the project…You learn and fine tune your equipment scheduling based on your experience earned. In the end, you have something to show to the client.”
He suggested that, “as a small contractor you do not tackle all sectors of a project at once.” Synergy Holdings is said to have had neither the capital nor the equipment to do such a work at all seven sectors.
“Their approach in trying to manage all seven sectors reflected the incompetence of Synergy in not fully understanding the scope of work involved…The problem was compounded further by the fact that this was a design -build contract…You have to design the project to a substantial completion phase before you can start work of such magnitude.”
Another source of worry for the access road was the supply of laterite.
At the termination of the contract, Motilall was said to have completed some 40 per cent of the accumulative works but as it relates to road complete to specification with laterite, only nine of the 161km was complete.
“There was confusion regarding the suitability of laterite available for the road at Sector Number Two.”
It was pointed out that the only available source of laterite was a pit about 13 miles from Camp Number Two.
According to Thakur Prasad (the laterite expert in Camp Number Two), some of the laterite used earlier was not suitable for the road. The soil was either too wet or too dry.
“If Synergy had been able to understand how soil works, the problem would have been resolved by the addition of water to the soil (if it is too dry)…As there was no water truck at the site, the laterite could never be brought to the max optimum density of 12 per cent…This percentage of water addition was decided by the soil technician for the project…The owners of Synergy could never make this connection as they had no experience of road compaction.”
Motilall’s inability to pay competent experts also led to inexperienced personnel undertaking surveys in the field to prepare designs for the road.
The initial ground survey work was performed by Engenuity Group, a prominent engineering and surveying firm in West Palm Beach, Florida.
According to one of the senior personnel that worked on the project, he began having suspicions and met with the owners of Engenuity Group, the initial surveyors.
“It was then explained (by Engenuity Group) that the project was real but that I should be careful of payment and that they were owed money.”
This publication has also learnt that apart from the woes with the Construction managers, Motilall also had problems with the original project engineer who had resigned due to lack of payment.
Engenuity Group had also refused to turn over initial survey works done to Synergy Holdings Inc as a result of non-payment and as such the company had to resort to using inexperienced surveyors.