24% of 2016 hinterland budget expended- Minister Patterson
The Ministry of Public Infrastructure has only expended 24% of the $1.7B allocated for hinterland development in 2016, even as Budget 2017 will be presented in two months.
During a Press Conference on Friday, Minister of Public Infrastructure, David Patterson noted that contractors are failing to complete their projects on time.
The Minister said “I do think we have a capacity issue in the country that needs to be addressed…particularly for the hinterland stretch” however, he noted that during a meeting with hinterland contractors on Thursday, they gave a commitment that October and November will be their busiest months.”
“Your performance in 2016 will count against you in 2017” he warned the contractors.
However, he noted that “while the contracts are being awarded, some of these same contractors are being awarded contracts for these airstrips and that poses a problem.”
The Government is also encouraging community participation to complete projects. Minister Patterson said the Ministry sets some of its contracts in ways that can benefit communities “e.g Ituni/Kwakwani road is done in small lots so that smaller contractors, indigenous contractors can get it. We doing some work in Akawini and the Akawini community has a contract to provide the timber.”
The Government announced on Thursday that Cabinet has granted its approval for the awarding of approximately $304M in contracts for the rehabilitation of several hinterland airstrips.
The Eteringbang airstrip located in Region 7 will be rehabilitated by STP INVESTMENTS at a cost of $76,605,100, while the Kurupung airstrip, also in Region Seven will be rehabilitated at a cost of $28,984,000. That contract was awarded to MMC Inc.
In Region Eight, the Paramakatoi, Kato, Kopinang, and Monkey Mountain airstrips have been selected for upgrades. $39,947,430 was awarded to N&A Construction Company for rehabilitation of the Paramakatoi airstrip, while COLIN TALBOT CONTRACTING SERVICES has been awarded the contract for the upgrade of the Kato and Kopinang airstrips. That contracted was awarded $65,627,935.00 and $38,711,235respectively.
Meanwhile, the Monkey Mountain airstrip will be upgraded by K.P. Thomas and Sons Contracting Inc. to the tune of $23,825,300. In Region Nine, $56, 948, 600 was awarded to SYMS General Contractor Inc. for rehabilitation of the Annai airstrip.
Government had budgeted $241M to rehabilitate the airstrips.