President decries poor supervision of infrastructural projects

Georgetown, GINA, February 6, 2014

 

President Donald Ramotar today called for greater supervision in the execution of public infrastructural projects, and for the road works along the East Bank and East Coast of Demerara to be expedited.

The Head of State made these remarks at the opening of the Fourth Engineers’ Conference at the Guyana International Conference Center (GICC). This year, the conference was held in collaboration with the University of Guyana (UG).

The President said that given Guyana’s peculiar geography; whereby its coastline is below sea level, better planning is needed. He noted that while the country has scored significant successes, much more need to be done with regards to improving quality, cutting cost and ensuring that projects stay within their budget and timely completion.

President Donald Ramotar delivering the feature address at the Fourth Engineers’ Conference at the Guyana International Conference Centre (GICC), Liliendaal

“Too often, I see and hear about projects where, when you are throwing sand it is disappearing in the ground. Wasn’t there any soil tests done, wasn’t there enough planning and preparatory work?” he questioned.

He explained that Guyana is still a developing country and there are numerous competing needs and as such, the additional expenses that result from poor execution of projects could be better spent on other areas.

“There is a big need for greater supervision of our work; I do not think enough supervision is done. Too many variations are taking place, which tell me that something is not right, either preparatory work is not properly done or there is too much of a cozy relationship between contractors and engineers,” the Head of State asserted.

Members of the engineering fraternity at the conference

The collaboration between UG and the Ministry of Public Works is seen as necessary as they play a complementary role with each other.  President Ramotar said that the Ministry is a major ‘implementer’ of projects and has over the years, accumulated a wealth of experience that must be used to complement and enrich the university in developing a new generation of Guyanese engineers.

Engineering has played a central role in the process of modernisation of the world and propelling economic development. In Guyana, infrastructural development is important in building the economy, as well as laying the foundation for sustained economic development.

Over the past 20 years, the country has seen many projects that have literally transformed the social and physical landscape. These including long stretches of roadways, newly constructed and fortified miles of sea and river defences, hundreds of miles of drainage and irrigation canals, new bridges, water supply systems, expansion and electricity services (both generation and distribution), the Berbice River Bridge, the stadium, CARICOM Headquarters, GICC, and thousands of new buildings both in the private and public sectors.

President Donald Ramotar, Prime Minister Samuel Hinds, Vice Chancellor of the University of Guyana Jacob Opadeyi, Education Minister Priya Manickchand and Public Works Minister Robeson Benn at the Fourth Engineers’ Conference at the Guyana International Conference Centre (GICC), Liliendaal

The President said that, “we want to lay the foundation where engineering becomes one of the centerpieces for many of the necessary projects to accelerate and sustain growth, but we need additional infrastructure… in the final analysis we are all here to help develop the quality of life.”

He also spoke of the need for a deep water harbour to facilitate more imports and exports and cheaper electricity to boost value-added.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Samuel Hinds commended Minister of Public Works, Robeson Benn for his astute leadership of the sector, and for the strides that have been made over the past few years.

Minister Benn said that this conference presents an ideal opportunity for engineers to review the work that they have done; how to further advance engineering optimisation and ways of improving the delivery of services.

“I want to encourage our profession to find ways to synergise what we do, and to communicate with each other…we are trained, we are able and we should be ready to do the task that we have been assigned,” Minister Benn said.

UG’s Vice Chancellor, Jacob Opadeyi said that through this workshop, the university is facilitating its students in starting to mingle with the local engineering fraternity, and to get a closer look of what their future will be. He said that the value of the collaboration for UG is one that cannot be underscored.

The Vice Chancellor also suggested that the Government dedicates 0.1 percent of the budget on mega projects being undertaken in the country to human resource development in engineering.

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