Negotiations to start with Ballast Nedam

Stabroek News
June 8, 2000

The Berbice River Bridge will most likely be built by the same Dutch Company, Ballast Nedam, that recently constructed a bridge across the Suriname River.

The announcement that the company had the top ranking bid for the project was made yesterday by Minister of Works, Anthony Xavier, and came after a review of bids from five international companies and consortia.

According to Xavier, the two-year project will begin this November at Standvastigheid on the West Bank Berbice, five miles above Rosignol and at Brothers on the East Bank Berbice, six miles above New Amsterdam. Ten kilometres of approaching roads will be constructed from Rosignol.

Xavier declined to reveal the cost of building the bridge but sources close to the tender process said it was in the range of US$40 million to US$50 million. Under the proposed build, operate and transfer (BOT) arrangement, Ballast Nedam would build the structure, operate it under a toll system and then after 20 years transfer it to the Government of Guyana. All financing would have to be raised by Ballast Nedam.

The specifications required by the review committee was for a 23 ft wide bridge with a minimum height above the navigation channel of 85 ft. This would allow for large ocean-going ships to pass.

A source involved in the formation of the tender said the navigation channel was close to the east bank of the Berbice River and the height of 85 ft would require an extensive length of road over the land to meet the international standard of a six-degree gradient. The source recalled that a height of 50 ft had also been mentioned.

Ballast Nedam's bid was in association with David Klautky and Associates, Amazon Construction, BK International and Courtney Benn Construction Ltd. The other bids were from: American Enterprise Inc in association with Pinnacle Construction, Guyana National Industrial Company Inc (GNIC) and Universal Steel Inc; Group 5 (South Africa) in association with Mongmotse Capital, Matthews Associates, Jean Muller International and UWP Engineers; Reed and Reed of the USA in association with FINCOR, Sebago Technics Inc, Lockwood Consulting Engineers, Haley Alrich Inc and Ground Structures Engineering Consultants Ltd; and Volker Stevens of the Netherlands with GNIC and Action Engineering Inc.

The bids were considered by a five-man team made up of George Jardim, chairman of the Private Sector Commission; Ramdial Bhookmohan president of the Berbice Chamber of Commerce and Development Association; Joe Holder, project manager of the Guyana Bridge Rehabilitation Project; Tarchand Balgobin, head of projects, State Planning Secretariat and Winston Brassington head of the Privatisation Unit. Considerations included the design aspects of the bridge; location and construction; timetable; costs including maintenance, environmental considerations, finance and cost recovery; legal and financial status of firms; and overall structure of the bridge organisation. According to Xavier, meetings were held last week with the bidders and the evaluation team completed its review last Friday. Cabinet accepted the recommendation of Ballast Nedam on Tuesday and approved the start of negotiations with Ballast Nedam to reach an agreement on details from the BOT arrangement and an initial agreement for the project. The Ministry of Works will shortly be announcing its negotiating team.

Jardim cited the government's desire for a project that would not require it to come up with financing. He noted Ballast Nedam's worldwide reputation and ability to obtain financing for large construction projects.

Ballast Nedam with headquarters in the Netherlands has done construction work in Guyana before as part of Phase 3 of the Mahaica-Mahaicony-Abary/Agricultural Development Authority back in 1983 to 1987. Persons involved in the company's work said the project was completed seven months ahead of schedule.

Along with the $60 million bridge over the Suriname River the company built a bridge across the Copenaam river at a cost of $30 million and a water treatment plant in Suriname. Other projects worldwide have included a pulp mill and a coal terminal in Indonesia, a power station in Chile and a harbour development in St Maarten. The company also built the terminal facilities for the Guyana-Suriname ferry.

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