The current People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government is continuing its efforts to recoup the loss incurred by the former Government when it spent $600 million (US$2 million) to purchase a number of defective pumps that, to this day, do not work.
Speaking during his recent end of year press conference, Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha revealed that the pumps which were procured by the former A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Government in 2018 are still in the system, albeit defective.
“I took over a sector that the then Government would have purchased 12 pumps, with a line of credit from India, at a cost of US$2 million. Those pumps are still in the system, defective and we are still trying to recoup our money or get proper pumps that can satisfy the specifications and requirements,” Mustapha said.
“Today those pumps are still defective and we are actively working to see how we can rectify that situation. They have paid about 75 per cent of the cost, the previous Government. When I came in and we discovered that the pumps were not suitable, the pump size and engine was small, I put a stop to the payments and we were working to see how we can get these pumps replaced.”
According to Mustapha, Attorney General Anil Nandlall, SC, is aiding his Ministry in either getting the pump engines replaced or recouping the losses from the pump. According to the Agriculture Minister, they have also been working with the Indian High Commission to engage the company the pumps were procured from. The Minister was hopeful that another meeting can be held soon to resolve the matter.
“As a matter of fact, we did an assessment and proposal, of how this matter could be resolved. Of course, the engine would have to be replaced. So, the matter is at that stage. Also, I have engaged my colleague Minister, the Attorney General. And we are working, hopefully we can get this matter resolved shortly,” the Minister said.
Back in 2018, a contract was awarded by the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board (NPTAB) in the sum of $753.3 million (US$3.6 million) to Apolla International Limited to design, supply and install nine fixed and three mobile high-capacity drainage pumps, as well as the associated structures/equipment.
Made possible by an Indian Line of Credit, the contract was signed by then Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA). The pumps were installed at a number of locations, including Hampton Court, Devonshire Castle, Hope, Rose Hall, Den Amstel, Mora Point and Nootenzuil. Meanwhile, the mobile pumps went to locations at Church Street, Sussex Street and South Ruimveldt.
However, the Auditor General’s 2022 report had showed that 10 of the 12 engines did not meet the required specifications and were unable to sustain long-term operation of the pumps. Despite the Government reaching out to the contractor to have these engines replaced, this was not done.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Agriculture in its response to the findings acknowledged the situation and noted that an assessment conducted by the Ministry showed that the 10 undersized engines need to be replaced. It was, however, noted by the NDIA that the contractor has failed to do so.
“The National Drainage and Irrigation Authority indicated one gear drive was supplied for Devonshire Castle Pump Station. However, none of the ten engines were changed as requested, that is three engines for the mobile pumps and seven engines for the fixed pumps,” the report states.
In his recommendations, Auditor General Deodat Sharma had urged the Ministry of Agriculture to continue to engage the contractor, Apollo, in order to ensure the pumps were replaced and able to function properly.