Last Updated on Tuesday, 18 September 2018, 9:39 by Denis Chabrol
The Guyana Police Force’s Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) has launched an investigation into the award of a GY$148 million contract to a Dutch company for the development of a feasibility study and design of a new Demerara River bridge, a senior police officer said.
“The matter was referred and we (police force) are investigating the matter,” the official told Demerara Waves Online News. Head of SOCU, Assistant Police Commissioner Sydney James on Monday afternoon would only say “that matter is ongoing”.
The officer confirmed that Public Infrastructure Minister, David Patterson submitted a statement to SOCU to which the complaint was made in mid-August by the opposition People’s Progressive Party’s (PPP) Gail Teixeira. The official added that Patterson also submitted other documents. Several other persons were also said to have been questioned in connection with that matter.
Sources indicated to Demerara Waves Online News that SOCU decided to probe the PPP’s allegation that the David Granger-led Cabinet and Patterson allegedly violated the Procurement Act following advice from the Police Force Legal Adviser, Retired Justice Claudette Singh.
Teixeira has alleged that neither Cabinet nor the Public Infrastructure Minister has the authority to award such a contract without first seeking approval from the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board (NPTAB).
If the Police Legal Adviser advises police to question other government officials “they would have to” go to SOCU to be questioned, the official said.
The contract was awarded to LievenseCSO Engineering Contracting BV after, according to government, the 23 bidders had not met or fulfilled government’s requirements. The Public Infrastructure Minister has said the contracted company had submitted an unsolicited offer which had been later approved by cabinet.
“Having regard to the fact that this was an unsolicited proposal for a matter for which a suitable candidate was not found after a rigorous and lengthy tender process and there being no established procurement rules for dealing with unsolicited proposals, a Cabinet Paper was prepared on the matter on November 18, 2016 and submitted for Cabinet’s consideration,” the ministry said.