Guyana’s Public Infrastructure Minister, David Patterson on Thursday denied that KARES Engineering was never told of the defects at the Kato Secondary School within the liability period.
Patterson refused the company’s offer to agree to a partly funded pressure test of the concrete structure, and he virtually ruled out the company being paid the remaining GYD$66 million. Describing the company’s assertion as “very bold,” he noted that the audit report contends that KARES Engineering should not have been paid the GYD$662 million. “It’s quite a mess and I can tell you for sure that the report is at the AG’s (Attorney General’s) office and I can guarantee you for sure that one of the advice is that obviously nothing else is to be paid,” he said.
The Minister recalled that KARES Engineering had disagreed with the findings of a “quick check” done by the Public Infrastructure Ministry within the liability period after which Rodrigues Architects Limited was called in to conduct the audit. Patterson said one interpretation of the liability period is that it begins when the certificate is issued. “The consultants have said that the defects liability period commences when you get your final certificate but they were never actually issued a final certificate. There are minutes of a meeting saying that ‘OK my the next month you would be finished’ but they were never actually issued,” he said.
The Minister also virtually discarded KARES Engineering’s offer to enter into talks with government to fix the defects which a consulting firm, Rodrigues Architects Limited, that conducted an audit of the structure said could cost more than GYD$140 million. “That is not my decision at the moment but I think that the auditors in the report did not advise that we should because obviously if somebody was willingly and knowingly did the works that were executed, really it is not wise to ask them to fix it…so it may be the most prudent course for any government to ask him to fix it,” he said.
He outright rejected KARES Engineering’s offer to pay 50 percent of the cost to have coring and compression strength test-the only acceptable industry standard- conducted on the building to verify beyond doubt the strength of the concrete.
Patterson said KARES Engineering never participated in the overwhelming majority of the audit, only promising to send two of his engineers. Copies of the audit report were handed to the contractor, consultant and the Ministry of Education. “Each agency responded to the contents of the audit report and that is also included in the final document,” he said.
He said the company had long ago had an opportunity to fix the defects at the Kato Secondary School rather than waiting until eight months later.
The Minister acknowledged that a hole was created during the Schmidt hammer Test to ascertain the concrete density.
Concerns have been also raised about the quality of the materials that were used to construct the school at a cost of GYD$728.1 million.
For its part, the company has in essence stated that the project was completed, within budget, accepted and received by the Government of Guyana without complaint on its completion. “The building meets and in many cases exceeds the contract specifications. This was accepted by the supervising consultant. All specifications and changes in design or materials were made by the Government of Guyana and passed on to the Kares Engineering. Kares Engineering made no independent decision to change or alter any specification,” the company said.