The president of the Association of Civil Engineers of Honduras (CICH) has raised serious concerns about the integrity of water and energy infrastructure in the country, saying its condition poses a risk to the public.
CICH President Luis Eveline also criticized the tender process for infrastructure contracts.
He said important tenders fail because “the process bidding documents are not well prepared, legal breaches (of state laws) take place, evaluating commissions have limited knowledge, and due to lack of transparency of the integral process.”
Time is being wasted, work is made over-complicated, leaks grow every day and the list of needed repairs accumulates over time, Eveline added.
He cited as an example the tender for repairing fissures and the main curtain at El Cajon Dam. Local newspaper La Tribuna quoted Emil Hawit, manager of the national energy company ENE, as saying the tender had been declared a failure due to “doubts.”
The dam and associated hydropower plant are located only 180 kilometers from the capital, Tegucigalpa, and 80 kilometers from the main industrial city of San Pedro de Sula.
The dam reservoir is 94 square kilometers. The cracks in the dam are expanding daily, and the situation is reported to be a “constant threat.” If it collapses, it would not only cause millions of dollars in damage, but would affect crops and put human lives at risk.
Four companies -- three from Honduras and one foreign -- bid for the project. The bids ranged from $11.15 million USD to $39.4 million USD.
Eveline told La Tribuna that “the company with the highest bid presented a project 200 percent higher in cost than the lowest bidding company.”
He said the evaluating commission uses poor criteria and ends up awarding projects to the highest bidder.
Another failed tender was local water company SANAA’s Los Laureles-Concepcion water diversion project. As a result of the failure to award the tender, Tegucigalpa will have to do without 5 million cubic meters of water that the project was supposed to provide. The project was being financed by the Central American Bank for Economic Integration.
“The declaration of failed tenders led to the capital, Tegucigalpa, [being] subjected to a greater crisis, due to lack of water services,” Eveline said.
The CICH is calling for more responsible tender and construction processes, and has called on the country’s president to intervene.
“CICH declares firm support to the government and in addition asks for a high-level commission to be formed with experts of our association to re-evaluate the [failed tender] cases for the good of the population of Honduras and the heritage of civil infrastructure,” Eveline said.