Corrective works at Kato School– says no other company responded Government has defended its decision to sole-source VIKAB Guyana Ltd to supervise corrective works that are to be undertaken on the edifice of the troubledKato Secondary SchoolKato Secondary School in Region Eight (Potaro-Siparuni).The Trinidad-based consultancy firm has had a series of problems overseeing construction works on several local projects, including the rehabilitation of the Supenaam Stelling over a decade ago.The Public Infrastructure Ministry (MPI) has, however, sought to provide an insight as to how the supervisory contract got into the hands of the Trinidadian firm, saying on Sunday that VIKAB was the only company to respond when the bids for the consultancy service were closed.It was explained that at meeting back in February, representatives from the Ministries of Public Infrastructure, Indigenous People’s Affairs, Communities, Education, and Social Cohesion decided that the Kato Secondary School, which had several structural defects, should be repaired and completed.That meeting also decided that the contractor Kares Engineering Inc shouldThe architect examining a gaping hole on the second floor corridor of the Kato Secondary School during a visit last yearcomplete all corrective works on the school and bear the cost of the remedial works. The works will have to be subjected to strict supervision, and this was agreed to by the contractor.The Public Infrastructure Ministry was duly asked to recruit an independent supervisory consultant to oversee the project. In addition, an independent four-person committee comprising one member from the Guyana Association of Professional Engineers (GAPE), two from the Kato community and one from the region was ordered to provide periodic oversight, in addition to the independent supervisory Consultant.No responseThe Public Infrastructure Ministry pointed out that in its effort to recruit the supervisory consultant for the remedial works, the president of GAPE was approached for assistance in shortlisting the consultant and reviewing the proposed terms of reference.“Unfortunately, no response was received from that organisation, and as a consequence, six consultants were identified in a restrictive tendering method for the selection of the supervisory consultant,” the MPI said.It noted that this method was chosen in order to avoid any risks of time loss during the normal open-bidding procurement process. “This process is protracted and presents a challenge to meet the urgent growing intervention needs and disbursement targets for this project,” it stated.“The Ministry, through peer review and consultations with the Ministry of Education, is acquainted with the performance of the consultants who demonstrate the capacity, reserve resources, and availability to tender for these services. The consultants proposed were selected on the basis of having access to financial resources that would allow swift mobilization response to the project site, if awarded,” MPI added.The MPI also pointed out that the listed consultants possess the adequate experience of having similarly served in the remote regions of Guyana.RefusalIt was noted, too, that among the six proposed consultants was Rodrigues Architects Ltd. (RAL), the company which executed the independent technical audit of the New Kato Secondary School Complex last year. However, the company has asked not to be considered for the Supervisory Consultant position, since its representatives believe that the best interest of the project would be served by engaging another consultancy company.RAL reasoned that it wanted to avoid any objections or claims by Kares Engineering Inc., since its assessment was biased, thereby challenging the company’s integrity. It said these may lead to frustration in completing the corrective works.“Further, such claims may prejudice any future proceedings between the Government of Guyana and Kares Engineering Inc. for a satisfactory conclusion to the dispute… In the event that Kares Engineering Inc. is allowed to rectify the works, RAL did not have the necessary confidence or trust for a harmonious contractor/consultant relationship,” RAL has said to the MPI.Nevertheless, MPI outlined that, at the time of closing of bids at National Procurement and Tender Administration Board (NPTAB), on May 9, 2017 at 09:00h, there was no response from any of the listed consultants except Vikab Guyana Ltd. The company has notified the MPI of its willingness to participate if a one-week extension of time were given to facilitate submission of its proposals.According to the MPI, this request was granted and the VIKAB Guyana Ltd. submitted its financial and technical proposals.“The utilisation of the single source selection process is the most efficient method of procurement regarding this consultancy. Pursuing a process that allows for bidding, evaluation, etc, before award will, of course, delay agreement with the consultant; and with a scheduled opening date for the school set for September 2017 – the beginning of the new school year – expediency is important, hence the need for single source selection,” the MPI explained.Furthermore, it outlined that the financial proposal provided by the consultant is below the MPI’s estimation for these services; the daily rates are below that estimated to be “fair market rates” for local consultancy services in such remote Regions of Guyana. As such, the offer is deemed acceptable.Contract awardedAgainst this backdrop, the Public Infrastructure Ministry said, after the Evaluation Team had carefully examined all aspects of efficiency, economy, and the fair market price submitted by the consultant, the committee recommended to the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board that VIKAB Guyana Ltd be awarded the contract for providing supervisory service for completion of remedial works at the New Kato Secondary Schoo in Region 8 in the sum of Gy$29,229,410, and this recommendation was approved.The contract for construction of the Kato Secondary School was awarded in late 2012 to Kares Engineering Inc., and work commenced in 2013 with a completion date set for April 2015. However, the project was delayed on two other occasions.The technical audit conducted in February last year found that approximately 60 per cent of the project was defective, and another 30 per cent was just over the borderline. Only about 10 per cent of the project was structurally sound.Among the issues highlighted in the report was the prioritising of cost effectiveness over professional competence, and the use of inadequately qualified consultants for the project.During a media tour of the school back in August, architect Davendra Doodnauth of Rodrigues Architects pointed out numerous construction defects, including bad timber, exposed electrical outlets, cracking stairways, and exposed steel.It was estimated that remedial works on the Region Eight school could rack up a bill of more than $140 million.