“Contract to construct extension of BIA cannot be taken away from Taisei Corp” – Minister Prasanna Ranatunga

“Contract to construct extension of BIA cannot be taken away from Taisei Corp” – Minister Prasanna Ranatunga

Written by Staff Writer

26 Feb, 2020 | 9:47 pm

COLOMBO (News 1st):- Minister Prasanna Ranatunga says, the contract to construct the extension of the Bandaranaike International Airport in Katunayake cannot be taken away from the Japanese company Taisei. The Minister points out a decision can only be taken if an issue arises while the project is underway.

The project to construct an extension to the BIA will be carried out through a loan of Rs. 99 bn obtained from Japan.

Minister of Tourism and Civil Aviation, Prasanna Ranatunga speaking on the issue said;

“There are two matters here. The first is that this loan was obtained from Japan during the tenure of the previous Government. This has been tendered and is being constructed under 2 phases. Around 90%  of the work is completed in phase 1. The second phase has been delayed as a result of an administrative issue that has arisen in the company carrying out the construction. The previous Government had appointed a commission comprising 3 ministry secretaries to compile a report regarding this. When we came into power, we allowed the commission to carry on its functions. We only had to make the decision on whether the company will be constructing this or not. The previous Government had appointed a tender board and an evaluation committee.”

He further continued to say;

“What was left for us to do was provide a one-month extension and hold final discussions. They have now agreed to go forward with this project. Therefore, the cabinet convened and based on the subcommittee report, we have delegated the authorities at the airport to carry out further activities with the relevant company. Based on the information we received yesterday, we requested for this to be probed. Most of the work has been completed. Only once the construction is underway can we take any sort of action if the company is doing things in an improper manner.”

Minister Prasanna Ranatunga, the issue faced by the people is not the project. The issue is handing over the project to the Japanese Taisei company. This company obtained rights to construct the 3rd phase of the Central Expressway violating the tender process of the country. The loan which was to be obtained by the previous Government for this project was in excess of Rs 153 billion and was also to be obtained at a higher interest rate.

Cabinet papers had also been issued back in the day to pay a premium of 10.07% of the total loan in order to obtain the loan in question. However, the Taisei Corporation has been removed from the 3rd phase of the Central Expressway which is still under construction. It is against such a backdrop that this BIA extension project has been handed over to the Taisei Corporation.

Minister Prasanna Ranatunga, you may be unaware that the Taisei Corporation had demanded a compensation of Rs. 4 billion, claiming that the Government had failed to take over the Outer Circular Expressway during the pre-agreed period. The Corporation has also gone to the extent of initiating legal action against the Government to obtain compensation.

If this is the manner in which the Taisei Corporation conducts itself, will authorities succeed in removing the corporation from the BIA extension project, while construction is underway? The Fair Trade Commission in Japan filed criminal charges against this corporation and this corporation is also responsible for the construction of this infamous subway.

Yesterday, News 1st revealed that various irregularities had occurred while the Taisei Corporation was constructing the Hilton hotel in Colombo. Further to News 1st’s revelations on the contract breaches by Taisei Corporation with regard to the Hilton Hotel, Nihal Sri Amarasekara, who had taken legal action against the matter, revealed more information.

He says, it was proven before a special Presidential Commission, that the cross-sectional sheets of the original architectural plans of Hilton Hotel Colombo, had been replaced with new cross-sectional sheets.  These new sheets had provided new ‘elevations’ of the said floors, and two of the floor sheets and the basement sheets of the original architectural plans had been removed.

Mr Amarasekara added that the ‘elevations’ shown on the Floor Plan Sheets did not match with the corresponding ‘elevations’ of the floors depicted on the new cross-sectional Sheets, which was “irrefutable evidence of the criminality of cannibalization of the original architectural plans,” which were before the Commission.

As a result of such action, the 3rd and 4th Floors were shown to be at the same ‘elevation’ of 24.5 meters, whilst the 19th Floor and the Roof of the 19th floor were shown to be at ‘elevations’ of 72.7 meters and 72.5 meters, respectively, whereby the Roof was depicted to be below the 19th Floor

Amarasekara further noted: The foregoing resulted in the elimination of 2 Room Floors, a Mezzanine Floor and 2 Basements, compromising on the piling which had to be done for the basements.
Also, the Schedule of Supplies of Furniture, Fittings, and Equipment had also gone missing and thereby the correctness of such Supplies had been compromised and could not be verified, in as much as a Specified Bills of Quantities was unavailable to have ensured quality specifications.

The people of the country do not question the decision to extend the national airport of the country. The conundrum is, presenting a Corporation which is clearly involved in committing irregularities and a marred reputation to construct the aforementioned extension.

According to Minister Prasanna Ranatunga, should we wait to close the stable door after the horse has bolted?

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