The $400 million Curepe Interchange project is expected to start within the next 30 days, with Nidco choosing to jointly award the contract for the project to the two top bidders following a public falling out over the tendering process late last year.
Former junior minister in the Ministry of Works and Infrastructure Stacy Roopnarine had fallen out with her boss Dr Suruj Rambachan, after it was revealed then that local contractor, Lutchmeesingh Transport Company had been selected for the job though it ranked second in the tender screening process. It was revealed that first-ranked bidder Vinci Construction lost out because of its high costing for the mega-job.
The Sunday Guardian has since learned that though Lutchmeesingh was selected, Nidco-based engineers objected on the basis that the company's tender contained several shortcomings.
However, in fresh developments, Nidco has decided to award the project jointly to the two top bidders. "We are currently in negotiations with the first and second bidder," Nidco chairman Dr Carson Charles confirmed.
There is no word as to what prompted these fresh negotiations or who made the call to have the job shared between the two top-ranked bidders, but Charles confirmed that the project would be offered to both contractors, after months of the project being on hold and talks of quashing the bid and restarting the tender process.
Back in November, it was reported that the two top bidders had been rejected on the basis of price and expertise, respectively. Charles confirmed to the Sunday Guardian that Nidco's engineering team had found that several major items were not catered for in the tender submitted by Lutchmeesingh, leading to Nidco overturning that company's selection for the project previously.
Nidco had been reported then as weighing additional options to get the job done.
The tenure of Nidco's board ended in December 2014 and left the future of the Curepe Interchange in limbo. Charles had said then that he expected the project to be finalised and awarded by January 2015 but, almost six months later, the project remained stalled.
"We could not come to an agreement with Vinci Construction based on the cost of its tender and with Lutchmeesingh, the negotiation committee was not convinced that they had the ability to complete the job," Charles said.
"Quite frankly, there were three contractors selected and we were not satisfied with any."
Despite Charles' misgivings, the project is expected to come before the Nidco executive within the next month and awarded soon after.
"We are seeking to work out a solution so that we can use the specific expertise from both companies," Charles said.
The project is expected to be completed 18 months after it begins.
Key among the projects to be completed at a rapid rate is the now 50 per cent completed billion-dollar highway to Point Fortin. The Sunday Guardian has learned that Nidco is now in talks with all major road contractors, including Junior Sammy, Seereram Brothers and Lutchmeesingh, for them to work as a unit to complete the road works in conjunction with Brazil-based OAS Construction, which controls the project.
"So much is going on at Nidco," Charles said.
"We are currently in talks with the major contractors in the country to sub-contract the work on the Point Fortin highway and complete that project by next year," he said.
He said that Rambachan was expected to open a bridge in Claxton Bay today and has plans for another 20 bridges within the next few months.
Nidco has also started work on landslips around the country and has been given a five-year mandate to work on some 600 landslips, as well as several drainage projects under the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources.
Charles said another big project–the Diego Martin Interchange–was expected to be tabled soon.
"That project is currently at the design stage and is with the consultant," Charles said.
Charles said Nidco was also at the execution stage of the Port-of-Spain flood alleviation project which has been funded by the Inter-American Development Bank for well over half-a-billion dollars.