Patterson, Adams questioned by SOCU

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By Kurt Campbell

Former Minister of Public Infrastructure, David Patterson was on Friday summoned to the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) for questioning in relation to his involvement in the award of a contract for the feasibility study and design of the Demerara River crossing.

Also questioned on Friday was former General Manager of the Demerara Harbour Bridge Corporation, Rawlston Adams. The head of SOCU, Superintendent Fazil Karimbaksh told the News Room that both Patterson and Adams were invited to SOCU for questioning about their involvement in the award of the contract for the study and design of the new Harbour Bridge.

While the News Room witnessed Patterson’s arrival at SOCU around noon, Superintendent Karimbaksh confirmed that Adams had availed himself earlier in the day to be interviewed separately.

Patterson dodged the media and his attorney, when asked by reporters what the meeting was about, refused to answer and instead spoke about Patterson’s concern about West Indies cricket.

Former General Manager of the Demerara Harbour Bridge Corporation, Rawlston Adams

Patterson spent less than 10 minutes in the building before leaving with his attorney. In November 2020, the police had launched an investigation into the award of a contract to LievenseCSO to conduct a feasibility study and design of a new Demerara Harbour Bridge in 2016.

The police were reportedly investigating the spending and actions of individuals in the awarding of the contract.  The People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C), while in opposition, had requested that the Public Procurement Commission (PPC) investigate the award of the $145 million sole-sourced contract.

On Wednesday last, the matter came up before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament. Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Public Works, Vladim Persaud told the PAC that initially some 22 companies had submitted expressions of interest but only 12 were shortlisted.

He said only two companies submitted proposals when asked to do so, but only one of the two companies demonstrated the technical capabilities to carry out the study.

That company was not chosen because the price proposal far exceeded the budget and the methodology and approach deviated from the terms of reference. That, along with failure to consult and revise, led to the annulment of the procurement process and a decision was taken to re-tender.

It was at this stage that the Cabinet of David Granger’s government reportedly took a decision not to re-tender but to facilitate the award of the contract through sole sourcing, instead of going through the Procurement Board, as the law says should be done.

The report from the investigation conducted by the PPC noted that the bid from LievenseCSO was “unsolicited”, but Patterson took the company’s proposal to Cabinet for approval, and it was granted.

The report stated that monies to be spent on the project were taken from the Demerara Harbour Bridge Corporation (Asphalt Plant Accounts).

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