Contractor withdraws $19M claim against GWI, sets the record straight
Days after the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) was informed by the Corporate Secretary of the Guyana Water Inc (GWI) Nigel Niles that the utility company was facing a $19M claim by a contractor, the contracting firm – R Kissoon Contracting – has said that the claim was withdrawn.
In fact, Managing Director of R Kissoon Contracting Rudranauth Roopdeo said the company met with GWI officials, including Niles, last week where they agreed in principle that the claim would be withdrawn.
This was before GWI’s appearance at the PAC on Monday and Roopdeo said he is both surprised and upset to read in the press that Niles had told the Committee that the claim was still being pursued.
On Monday, Niles said he was engaging the Attorney General Chambers this week on the matter since negotiations towards an amicable solution with the contractor were not successful.
But in setting the record straight, Roopdeo, who said he was involved with the contract from the time it was awarded in November 2017, explained that the company was well within its right to make its claim for $19M.
He acknowledged that the contracting firm was also facing a lawsuit for $1.4M from GWI and while Niles told the PAC that the matter was not successful for GWI in the Court, Roopdeo said it was actually withdrawn by the utility company.
The contract was awarded to the contractor by the then Ministry of Communities for the extension of the coastal network from Byderabo to Agatash, Bartica, Region Seven.
The Auditor-General had reported that although the entire contract sum of $9.2M was paid to the contractor and works were successfully completed, the contractor was indebted to GWI.
Roopdeo said the company was even awarded a completion certificate, but GWI insisted that the company owed $1.4 for pipes that were still in the possession of the contractor.
Roopdeo said he never returned the pipes because GWI at the time had not responded to or serviced his $19M claim for over six months of downtime caused by a delay on GWI’s part to complete documentation that would clear the way for the procurement of the pipes and begin work since the contract was awarded and a site visit was completed.
“We were diligently mobilised, but we had no material,” Roopdeo said.
He told the News Room that GWI agreed to give the company the material (pipes) since the 2017 project had now rolled over to 2018 with the understanding that when the contracting firm gets to procure the pipes, they will be returned to GWI.
“We sent a claim since then during that time for downtime. We had already rented a house for staff, had the people up there and our machines were there so in keeping with the contract they had to pay based on the rates in the contract for the rental of machines and payment of staff…they asked for receipts and pictures and we sent all of that,” Roopdeo explained.
He said even though both sides were making claims against each other, he had lost work with the company, but recently regained contracts with GWI to the extent that millions more are owed to him on these contracts.
As a consequence, Roopdeo said he met with GWI last week and it was agreed that he will drop his claim.
“We agreed that in reaching an amicable solution we will waiver this claim as long as they waiver what claim they have on their side…this was up to last week.
“They agreed and said they will seek clarification and structure it,” he added.
Roopdeo now awaits word from GWI but says he remains interested in an amicable solution.