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A section of the contractors who attended the engagement on Monday

A section of the contractors who attended the engagement on Monday

November 24 ,2021

Source

Urging that they revise their business models and modify their work culture, President Irfaan Ali on Monday told contractors that they must adapt if they want to remain competitive in the sector.

Addressing the contractors at a  meeting at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre, Ali stated that those working on government projects must expand their human resource capacity and machinery to effectively meet their contractual obligations. He also said that contractors must be willing to invest in night work in order to get the job done.

“If you are playing at a certain level, you have to be willing to make the investment to allow you to be competitive and efficient at that level. This is where the country is heading. You have to build your night capacity; otherwise, you will fail,” Ali said as he discussed his government’s expectations regarding the execution of the projects and the quality of work.

President Irfaan Ali (left) interacts with contractors at the ACCC

The Head of State contended that contractors must work to create a culture and workforce that will deliver quality work on par with first world construction standards.

The days of workers “sporting” at the end of the working week no longer exist, he remarked. This culture, Ali pointed out, negatively impacts the delivery and quality of works which reflects on the contractors.

“…We have talented people but do we have talented committed people? The culture where you come to work and then you sport whole weekend and miss Monday or all they do on Friday is looking at the time… those days are gone… Pull yourselves up now… Listen, the time when you spend four hours on Friday or eight hours after your construction to drink six bottles Scotch is over. Those days are gone,” he cautioned.

Ali suggested that contractors find a balance between entertainment and work and desist from the culture of partying all weekend and not being able to work when the new week starts.

“Those days are finished with. I am speaking very frank. You have to have your entertainment time and a balance life but the balance has to be more to what has to be achieved,” he added.

He urged contractors to rethink their business models and examine opportunities to improve their project management skills. Rainy days, Ali said, should not interrupt the entire operations of a work force as companies should be able to use that downtime to engage in other activities that can be done on those days.

“We have to create a winning culture in this country. You have to create a winning culture in your companies. It requires a shift in how we operate and do things. I want all of us to be successful and be better at what we do. We are going to turn the screws out because we know you have it in you to be successful,” he declared.

Arguing that Guyana is on the cusp of transformation with mega infrastructural projects such as the construction of the new Demerara Harbour Bridge, the Amaila Falls Hydro Project and major roadworks, he said that companies must position themselves to benefit from these developments.

Apart from the construction of hotels and facilities in the private sector, Ali reiterated that government over the next few years will also be rolling out massive projects such as the development of a four-lane highway from Busby Dam to Ogle and then to Cane Grove on the East Coast of Demerara; an expanded four-lane highway on the Corentyne; an industrial estate that will require billions in contractual services; more than 30 new first-world schools; more than eight new hospitals across the different regions; the spending of billions of dollars in hinterland and community roads and other government infrastructural projects will create enormous opportunities for local contractors.

“This is the scale of investment that we are talking about—that you will be a part of. That is why you have to pull yourselves up now” he underscored.

The president disclosed that his government is prepared to give support to contractors where necessary but contractors must indicate the areas in which assistance is required.

Mobile floodlighting units

On this note, he stated that government is prepared to look into the possibility of offering duty-free concessions on mobile floodlighting units to better prepare contractors for night work.

“There are two ways you address this; the first is that you adopt a winning culture, or the second is for you to stay where you are, be happy and slowly be pushed out of what is happening. To adapt, you have to invest. You have to grow yourself in quality, in equipment and understand what is coming at you,” he told contractors in a passionate plea for them to improve their service and quality of work.

Ali further admonished contractors for not building capacity and looking for the cheap way out when bidding for contracts.

During his address, he suggested to contractors that one way to invest in building their human resources capacity is by employing skilled engineers to work on mega projects.

From a review of tender documents, he said, it has been observed that various contractors are utilising the services of one engineer for projects but there is no project engineer on site.

Ali put them on notice that they will have to build capacity as some projects will have to be done simultaneously. He assured that while he has no objections to a single contractor being awarded four contracts, they have to comprehend that the projects must be completed within a certain timeline.

The President also upbraided large scale contractors for competing against small contractors for lesser projects in regions. He averred that such actions are a waste of resources and should not be encouraged. He questioned the reasoning of the large scale contractor who is awarded a $100 million contract but is still bidding for a $5 million contract at the level of the regions.

“Absolute nonsense for you and for us because there is something called economies of scale, and allocation of resources, allocation of material, human financial and material resources. And if you are a tier-one contractor, and you want to spend the time to allocate resources on a $5 million project, you will bust. You will not be able to efficiently implement or achieve your outcome,” he admonished.

In the same breath, the President informed contractors that Guyana is moving towards a higher standard of construction which he referred to as “a different scale of sophistication” that will require skills and competences to deliver higher-quality finishes for every product.

Demerit

He also disclosed that a demerit system will be introduced to ensure performance-based awards of contracts.

Noting that some contractors fail to complete projects within the timeline provided, the president explained that the demerit system which will come on stream by the end of this year, will assess the performance and quality of work. The system will assess contractors’ performance for every contract awarded.

“The demerit system is that the net value of outstanding work will be transferred to the new year and will become your net value of work in progress that would disallow you from having new contracts or a certain level of new contracts. That too will be in the bidding document by agency,” Ali explained to the audience.

Moreover, said that he and his cabinet are committed to fulfilling the elaborate and comprehensive mandate of development to transform the lives of people.

“Every ounce of my energy and the cabinet’s energy, and the technicians’ energy, will be at achieving that mandate in the interest of Guyana and every single Guyanese, and you’re a part of that…The Government and all of you in this room have a professional responsibility to ensure that our plans and programmes are achieved,” he declared.

President Ali was joined by the Senior Minister within the Office of the President with responsibility for Finance, Dr Ashni Singh, and the Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs Anil Nandlall, who also addressed the meeting.

Also present were the Minister of Education, Priya Manickchand; Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Hugh Todd; Minister of Agriculture, Zulfikar Mustapha; Minister of Housing and Water, Collin Croal; Minister within the Ministry of Public Works, Deodat Indar; and heads and representatives from the various government agencies.

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This meeting was a pappy show



Kaieteur News – The President should not be meeting with contractors. He is a political figure and his job is to ensure that the policies regarding infrastructure works – be they schools, roads, bridges drainage and irrigation, hospitals, police buildings, etc., are laid out and that there are supervisory authorities tasked with ensuring the implementation of these policies and projects and the relevant personnel are subject to oversight.This cannot effectively happen until there are effective systems in place for the management of the Public Sector Investment Project. There is at present too much emphasis being placed on the Public Procurement Commission (PPC). But the role of that body needs to be re-evaluated since there is need to determine whether the PPP/C has the authority to overturn a procurement decision – a jurisdiction which presently falls within the ambit of tender administrations.


However, the President should be giving greater attention to having the PPC established. His government should not be granting any major contracts unless and until such a body is established because without it there is no oversight taking place. But before it is established, there needs to be clear understanding of its role vis-à-vis Cabinet and tender board administrations.The President’s meeting with the contractors is a pappy show. The contractors who undertake public works do not need any lecturing about their obligations. They have signed contracts with the government which create obligations. Those obligations must be enforced by the respective tender boards and if there are violations, then restitution must be sought in accordance with the terms of the contract. Instead of being lectured, the contractors should be subject to legal action for any shortcomings.


During the meeting the President is reported to have told the contractors that Guyana is going through a revolutionary period of development – we have heard that before – and that greater attention has to be paid to expediency (sic), accountability and quality.But the prime responsibility for these things rests not with the contractors but with the oversight bodies including the Tender Administrations.
He is reported to have told contractors that it is important for both the government and contractors to address the issue of timely completion of projects. He explained that there will be an assessment of every contractor and that a demerit system would be developed which could disqualify them from having new contracts. But the President said nothing about legal action against contractors for failing to complete work on time.


A demerit system sounds good. But in practice it can be used in a discriminatory manner. The same is true about a performance award system. But there appears to be a sound reason why the President met with the contractors. It is, I believe, part of what is a political attempt to defect attention away from the controversial award of a contract. Instead of defending this award, the government appears more interested, to me, to place attention elsewhere.I believe that what we are seeing is a manoeuvre to deflect attention away from the controversial award of contracts to the actual work done by contractors. The contractors should have drawn a nexus and pointed out to the President that when the wrong people get contracts, it is then that shoddy, late and unaccountable work is produced.


But the chickens have a way of coming home to roost. When substandard work is done because the wrong persons are awarded contracts, it is the government which has to fetch the blame.The government has faced the brunt of the criticism over the now decrepit Skeldon Sugar Factory. Yet, we have heard nothing about the contractors being taken to court for the failures to get the factory going.
The roads in a certain part of Georgetown were done years ago. The project cost hundreds of millions of dollars. Yet, soon after problems with the surface developed.
There were problems also with the Cheddi Jagan International Airport Extension Project. Yet, no one is yet before the courts to answer for failing to meet contractual obligations.


A number of impressive private structures are being erected across the country. Yet, you do not hear about the work not being done in accordance with the contracts signed. But when it comes to government contracts there are very often problems. And unless condign action is taken to hold the contractors accountable, then these problems will persist.
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper.)

President tells contractors on gov’t projects to expand capacity, consider night work

November 23 ,2021

Source

Contractors at the meeting (Office of the President photo)

Contractors at the meeting (Office of the President photo)



A release from the Office of the President follows:

Georgetown, Guyana (November 22, 2021) His Excellency Dr Irfaan Ali charged contractors to expedite their work but to ensure that quality is maintained as Guyana continues to go through a revolutionary period of growth and development.

The Head of State was adamant that structure was needed at all levels and by all stakeholders since the end result would need to be a quality product for the Guyanese people.

The lengthy but passionate address was made at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre (ACCC) in the presence of the heads of the relevant ministries and government agencies today.

The President reminded that his duty is to ensure that Guyana develops at all levels and that its people are happy with the quality of work and the transparent ways they are executed.

He said that at the end of his first term, his Government will have to go back to the citizens and that they will “judge us based on our performance”.

He explained that his Government’s performance involves not only the government agencies but also many other factors, including all of the contractors executing projects.

EVERY OUNCE OF MY ENERGY

President Ali noted that he and his cabinet have committed to fulfilling the very elaborate and comprehensive mandate of development and that there is “no way, absolutely no way we are not going to achieve that mandate”.

“Every ounce of my energy and the cabinet’s energy, and the technicians’ energy, will be at achieving that mandate in the interest of Guyana and every single Guyanese, and you’re a part of that….The Government and all of you in this room have a professional responsibility to ensure that our plans and programmes are achieved.”

CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM

The President said there is always room for growth and that contractors must learn to take constructive criticism and underscored that a contractor who is bidding for and being awarded large projects that fall over $100M should not be bidding for small regional projects.

“Absolute nonsense for you and for us because there is something called economies of scale, and allocation of resources, allocation of material, human financial and material resources. And if you are a tier-one contractor, and you want to spend the time to allocate resources on a $5M project, you will bust. You will not be able to efficiently implement or achieve your outcome.”

He also pointed out that when contractors who operate at a large scale go after small contracts, they take away from the small contractors and damage their own business model.

He made it clear that he has no problem with contractors having multiple contracts, but he has an issue with there being a lack of understanding that contracts have to be done simultaneously.

AMENDED CONTRACTS

The President told the contractors that they have to increase their capacity, both human resources and machinery. He noted that some contractors have been working without an engineer on-site despite having them listed as personnel on bid documents. This, the President said, will be addressed with a new contract and with a clause that will now recognise the qualification of someone who can sign off on their work.

He also told the contractors that they have to adapt to the culture of investing in night work.

“If you are playing at a certain level, you have to be willing to make the investment to allow you to be competitive and efficient at that level. This is where the country is heading. You have to build your night capacity; otherwise, you will fail.”

QUALITY OF WORK

He also said that the quality of the project will be comprehensively spelt out in the bid document and that there will be a clause of what is the contractor’s responsibility for a specified time.  He said that this is necessary for clarity moving forward.

“The country is operating at a different scale of sophistication, and at every scale of sophistication, you require higher quality—higher delivery of the end product.”

DEMERIT SYSTEM

The President also noted that timely completion of projects is another issue that is important for both the Government and contractors to address. He explained that there will be an assessment of every contractor and project executed at the end of the year and that a demerit system would be developed.

“The demerit system is that the net value of outstanding work will be transferred to the new year and will become your net value of work in progress that would disallow you from having new contracts or a certain level of new contracts. That too will be in the bidding document by agency.”

There will also be a performance-based award system in addition to the price and technical qualification system that is currently in place.

“I want you to understand what is going to take place in this country and why it is so important that we pull our socks up, and why is it so important that we have this conversation.”

FUTURE GROWTH

The President emphasised that it is important for contractors to address their shortcomings since tremendous opportunities will open for them in the near future. He explained that the local content legislation alone will open “tremendous opportunities” that will further deplete the contracting pool.

“There are two ways you address this; the first is that you adopt a winning culture, or the second is for you to stay where you are, be happy and slowly be pushed out of what is happening. To adapt, you have to invest. You have to grow yourself in quality, in equipment and understand what is coming at you.”

President Ali pointed out that the new Demerara Harbour Bridge project alone will require an amount of concrete that would exhaust the country’s current producing capacity. He said that the Amaila Falls Hydro Project would also take a tremendous amount of local resources.

“The government investment programme has many different levels, and I am only speaking about infrastructure today. Our national infrastructure transformation is going to set us on a pace and trajectory that is second to none in the world.”

The President said that the development of a four-lane highway from Busby Dam to Ogle and then to Cane Grove on the East Coast of Demerara; an expanded four-lane highway on the Corentyne; an industrial estate that will require billions in contractual services; more than 30 new first world schools; more than eight new hospitals across the different regions; the spending of billions of dollars in hinterland and community roads and other government infrastructural projects will create enormous opportunities for local contractors.

“This is the scale of investment that we are talking about—that you will be a part of. That is why you have to pull yourselves up now.”

CULTURE CHANGE

The President noted that for these opportunities to be taken full advantage of, the contractors must have a shift in their culture and thinking.

“Whilst we are developing, we have to start thinking and operating as if we are first world because unfortunately that is how people are judging us. Do not sleep on the development drive. Do not be aloof.”

“We have to create a winning culture in this country. You have to create a winning culture in your companies. It requires a shift in how we operate and do things. I want all of us to be successful and be better at what we do. We are going to turn the screws out because we know you have it in you to be successful.”

Last edited by Django

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