Agri. Minister conducts follow-up visit to Little Diamond

says works being done now should have been done before
contractor given two weeks to complete works

Minister of Agriculture, Hon. Zulfikar Mustapha on Tuesday afternoon conducted a follow-up visit to Little Diamond, East Bank Demerara, to assess ongoing works at the sluice currently being constructed by BK International. Over the past two days, residents from sections of the village experienced flooding, following a breach in the dam being constructed as part of the project.

Minister Mustapha and other officials at the site in Little Diamond during the follow-up visit

Residents have since called on the contractor to compensate them for the loss of their personal belongings since they believe that it was the negligence of the excavator operator working at the time that caused the breach.

During his follow-up visit on Tuesday, Minister Mustapha, along with a team of senior officers from the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA), spoke with workers on the ground who gave asurances that there would be no further instances of flooding.

In his comments to the media, the Minister said he has since notified the contractor of a final date for completion, and the Ministry would be taking the necessary steps to ensure projects are awarded to contractors who are more responsive.

“This contract was signed in 2017 and this is 2021. This is unacceptable. We are seeing here, works that were supposed to be done earlier are now ongoing only after a disaster took place. I had to call in the contractor and give them a final date to complete these works – which is mid-May  – because I’ve seen the way they were working. They were working very slow and lackadaisical.

I’ve since instructed our Permanent Secretary to write to the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board, informing them that the Ministry does not want to do work with these types of contractors because they are doing works at their own pace while we are getting the bad name and the people are suffering. We are carefully working to ensure we have contractors who are more responsive and do the works according to the specifications and within the timeframe,” Minister Mustapha said.

The Minister also said the contractor should be held accountable for the millions of dollars in losses that residents suffered.

“I still believe that the residents should be compensated by the contractor. I’m hoping that we can use some legal framework to do this because we still have a sum of money remaining in the contract to be paid.

So I’m hoping we can have a portion of those funds being allocated to assist with compensation for those who suffered losses.  In terms of livestock, I will see what can be done from the level of the Guyana Livestock Development Authority,” Minister Mustapha said.

The Minister also revealed that he has since tasked the NDIA with providing a comprehensive analysis of the entire project to ensure the ongoing works, and works completed to date, are and were done according to the contract specifications. This report, he added, should be completed by Wednesday.  

Technical officers from the NDIA will also be monitoring the ongoing works on a 24-hour basis until they are completed. Further, the consultant who worked on the initial specifications for the project has also been re-engaged to work along with officials from the Ministry to compile the report.