ECD road expansion…after complaints from USAID over misappropriated fundsSheladia Associates Incorporated, one of the consultants hired by the Public Infrastructure Ministry to supervise the East Coast Demerara (ECD) road expansion project, was previously under investigation in another jurisdiction for alleged corruption.The East Coast road expansion project currently underwayChecks on the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) website shows the company and a partner were investigated by NAB of Pakistan after complaints were filed by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) over misappropriation of funds on a project the agency funded.Sheladia’s partner, the Academy for Educational Development (AED), was suspended by USAID as one of its contractors working on a project in Pakistan. The donor agency had announced that its decision stemmed from “evidence of serious corporate misconduct, mismanagement and a lack of internal control.”Following the initial investigation, a corruption reference charge was filed against a top Sheladia Associates Incorporated official.As one of the cases it had investigated, NAB also announced in January of last year that another inquiry would be opened against officials of Sheladia Associates “regarding corruption and corrupt practises in the construction of Barang Road,” a project the Bureau noted was funded by USAID.While providing an update on the road expansion project a few days ago, the Public Infrastructure Ministry in a release had noted that the US$2.3 million contract for supervision services of the project was awarded to Sheladia, in association with E&A consultants.The fee was previously US$1.9 million but last year, then Public Infrastructure Ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Geoffrey Vaughn had revealed to the media that because of delays in the project, the US-based Sheladia had increased its fees to the current amount. In 2016, Government and the People’s Republic of China inked a US$45.5 million concessional loan for the completion of widening and other improvement of the road between Better Hope and Belfield on the East Coast of Demerara.Finance Minister Winston Jordan and former Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China, Zhang Limin, had inked the agreement. Guyana has contributed $2.7 billion towards the project.The current component of the project entails a total length of 16.998 kilometres of roads and 33.996 kilometres of drains to be built. It also includes the construction of seven bridges and the extension of 12 culverts. A median along with streetlights will be placed in the centre of the four lanes.As of August, it was explained that the bridges were approximately 35 per cent complete, with works having commenced on four of them; and of the 12 culverts, works are being carried out on the fourth culvert, which brings this aspect of the works to about 25 per cent completed.The concrete drains were about 90 per cent completed, while the revetment and retaining walls – a total of 190 metres primarily at the Triumph Sluice – were about 60 per cent completed. With regards to the road work, 95 per cent of the extension was completed.