By EDDIE OSIFELO
THE “controversy” surrounding the upgrading of Fiu Bridge in Malaita province may affect the project in the long run.
This was after Malaita Provincial Executive decided not to accept the winning bidder, China Harbour Engineering Company, to upgrade the bridge.
The project is part of the World Bank funded Solomon Islands Road Aviation Project (SIRAP).
Government, through the Ministry of Infrastructure Development (MID) met with the Malaita Provincial Executive on Tuesday last week and has threatened to pull out the project component if the Malaita Executive did not accept the Chinese company.
The Malaita Executive held a meeting later and decided that the Fiu bridge component be re-tendered since the province was aware that even the Chinese Company’s bid was over and above the 10% variation threshold.
In this regard, the Executive said that it is prudent that the Fiu Bridge Component and the other 2 or 3 bridges be tendered together again.
Also, the province continues to stand by the spirit of the Auki Communique to ensure that developments in Malaita province when it comes to roads and bridges are of quality and not sub-standards.
That means companies responsible for the construction of such infrastructures must have good and reputable backgrounds.
However, Deputy Secretary of MID, Jimi Alelamalei Nuake posted on social media that even if retender no other international companies will bid due to covid restrictions.
Nuake said only companies currently in country will bid.
“Unfortunately for Malaita most of these companies that will meet World Bank criteria for such big projects include these Chinese companies.
“Kitano, a Japanese company, unfortunately are not interested given the work load they are already facing,” Nuake added.
Nuake said if people are worried about quality, the Fiu Bridge is designed by SMEC, an Australian consultant using Australian Standards.
He said they will also closely supervise the construction work.
Furthermore, Nuake said funding for the Fiu Bridge is also from Central Government under the Economic Stimulus Package.
He said re-tendering will also “significantly delay the project by at least 6 to 8 months and what if no one else bid for the work after retendering?”
“The funding may then be redirected to resurface the international airport runway which has been put on hold under this project in order to address Fiu Bridge,” he added.