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Government last week launched Motor Vessel (M.V) Ma Lisha, which was acquired at a cost US$12.7 million, and is identified to service the North West Region. The vessel was constructed in India by the state-owned Indian company, Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers Limited (GRSEL). Ma Lisha was financed through US$18 million from the Government of India, with US$6 million in the form of a grant, and US$12 million in a line of credit.
The Award of the Contract was initially given to the privately owned Shoft Shipyard Private Ltd (SSPL) for the sum of US$15.6 million and not GRSEL because their contract was deemed non-responsive. The PPP/C when it entered government revoked the contract to SSPL and awarded it to GRSEL.
The cost of the vessel and design have been generating much criticism, forcing Minister of Public Works Juan Edghill to go on the defensive. Former Minister of Public Infrastructure David Patterson is one such person who fielded questions about the procurement process and service worthiness of the vessel. Patterson referred to PPP/C administration history of using incorrect specifications in the procurement process and cited the construction M.V Kanawan and M.V Sabanto as evidence. According to him, these vessels were poorly designed, and have been costing the Government US$1 million annually in maintenance as a result of procurement errors.
Making known support for more motor vessels in improving the transportation infrastructure, Paterson, however, stated his disapproval for the procurement process for M.V Ma Lisha. He accused the PPP/C of drastically revising the specifications of the original requirements which would result in the people of Guyana receiving an outdated, poorly designed and inferior ferry. Minister Edghill failed to address itemized criticisms from the public, save to say the vessel was constructed to meet the needs of the people and Guyana is getting its money’s worth. What the Minister truly means, time will tell.
In the meantime, there have been mounting calls for the establishment of the Public Procurement Commission (PPC) which can build public confidence and create more transparency in the tendering process. The life of the last Commission expired on 27th October 2019.