Sept 04, Colombo: Sri Lanka's Opposition and United National Party (UNP) Leader Ranil Wickremasinghe today in parliament questioned the awarding of a contract to a Chinese company for a major water supply project.
Making a statement under a Standing Order the Opposition Leader questioned why the government decided to award the contract for the Gampaha, Attanagalle and Minuwangoda Integrated Water Supply Scheme to the China National Machinery & Equipment Import & Export Corporation (CMEC).
Describing that the proposed project at a cost of US$ 229.5 million is one of the largest water supply schemes, Wickremasinghe asked why the Cabinet has revised its original cost and decided to award the contract to CMEC which built the Norochcholai Coal Power Plant.
According to the Opposition Leader, the proposed Water Supply Scheme seeks to provide water to a thickly populated area in Western Province and involves the construction of the Basnagoda Reservoir.
Last year the Ministry of National Water Supply & Drainage has revised the cost estimate and changed the implementation period for the project and after that the Cabinet has approved the revised cost estimate and awarded the contract to the CMEC this year.
Wickremasinghe pointed out that the Norochcholai Coal Power Plant built by CMEC is plagued with problems failing four times since its opening and not fully operational yet.
He noted that CMEC undertakes the construction of hydro and thermal power plants and power transmission lines and has limited experience in regard to water supply schemes.
Wickremasinghe also pointed out that it is an accepted practice of the Government not to award a tender to any company which has failed to perform on an earlier contract.
The Opposition Leader therefore questioned why the government made an exception in this case and awarded such a large contract to a company which has defaulted in executing an earlier construction project.
Wickremasinghe asked the government to clarify the reason for revising the original cost estimate and the procedure followed in selecting CMEC for this contract.
He also raised the questions as to who were the other interested parties and the reason for overlooking reputed water supply contractors for the construction of such projects.
He questioned whether the government took into consideration CMEC's viability in respect of Norochcholai Power Plant.
The Opposition Leader was interested in knowing who the local agents of the CMEC were and if it is a company, the names of the Directors and whether the CMEC is permitted to sub contract the whole scheme or any major part to any other company.
He asked the government to provide a step by step progressive cost escalation of the Project.