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Price of delay

Contractors tendering for emergency repair work in Honduras have accused the Honduran government of taking too long to place contracts and of being over-aggressive on price.

The chief executive of one US company bidding for a $5M repair to a large diameter water supply pipeline damaged by landslides, complained that he had been told to re-submit his tender five times. 'I thought this was an emergency but the government seems to think it has all the time in the world.'

One of Honduras' top three contractors claimed it had offered the government its plant to repair roads, but had still not heard anything after three weeks of waiting.

'The problem lies in the government's decision making. People are willing to work but can't get on unless they are told where to go,' said one local contractor.

But Rudolph Clevering, a consultant with German development agency GTZ , claims that resubmitting tenders several times is normal in Central America. 'These contractors are hoping to make huge margins from this disaster so of course there is blood on the wall,' he says.

With the delay in awarding contracts, residents in the capital Tegucigalpa fear they could be without water until well into next year. 'The government isn't going to fix things straight away. This is going to take a long time, so people are starting to worry,' said engineer Janet Aguilar.

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