Enormous space for improvement in engineering sector
- Minister Benn
Minister of Public Works and Transport Robeson Benn has urged the Guyana Association of Professional Engineers (GAPE) to ensure that it issues standards and rules for engineers to follow in order to maintain quality and professionalism in the field of Engineering.
The Minister was at the time delivering the feature address at the 44th GAPE Anniversary Dinner which was held at Duke Lodge, Kingston on Saturday evening.
He emphasized that the GAPE needs to play a role in reviews done by engineers, presentation of papers, seminars which could assist in developing the fraternity. However, there is also the need of reviewing the Engineering Act to establish a council for the oversight of the engineering industry, firms, and the conduct and development of the fraternity.
“This Act needs stimulus and energy to get things going.”
He also noted that Government engineers must set standards in which the private engineers should follow or aim for, since this would establish the rates at which works should be done.
“Government should always want to have and maintain the best standards in the sector along with the best engineers. What is important is not how much you get paid but delivering a good report that can withstand the test of time.”
Benn further noted that engineers must comply with applicable laws and avoid fraud and dishonesty, in the pursuit to please contractors. They must not assist anyone in unlawful or unethical practices.
Minister Benn said Guyana is on a developing path and should not be compared to other countries in the Caribbean since these countries have various systems that have developed their infrastructure and Guyana is in its own stage.
He explained that the amount of infrastructure Guyana has to maintain, although it is a developing large country with a low population base, is enormous compared to other countries per capita.
Benn noted that some engineers may complain about mud, the weather and other factors that delay projects, however, these are the things that come with the field of engineering, and as such engineers must learn how to work with or around such situations to complete their various tasks.
“I complain with my engineers sometimes that when we have overruns, we talk about rain and mud and all of those things, but I have also said to them these are the things we play with. We have to learn how to work with water and with the rain with the mud and all of those things; because we recognized that we are working in soft sediments so our approach has to be to find the ways and proper approaches to deal with those materials in those situations,” Benn noted.
“First we have to admit that we are not at the level we are supposed to be at and we should not be satisfied the way we do things, we should never consider that we are satisfied, and we have to recognize the way we do things now is fairly poor and there is a large opportunity and challenge to make enormous improvements.”
Adding that contractors should learn how to manage people and time for all projects, Minister Benn explained that there have been discussions with some contractors who claim to run into problems with projects, and one of the things discerned is that to some extent, not many of them are focused on the job of contracting and managing as an engineering business.
“Of course there is the claim that sometimes if you give a large advance which is 40% of whatever the contract sum, and then you get a little start up, then nothing happens for months, maybe something else is happening with the money, and this is one thing we want to address – how to get our contractors and engineers to focus on their work as a project and a business which will give results,” Benn explained.
Adding that contractors should focus on issues relating to their workers’ safety, Benn said that a safe worker is more efficient, dependable and useful.
Underscoring that contractors should have persons willing to work at nights, Benn said there is also the need to train persons to be more efficient in the ways they use materials, prevent workers from recidivism in the use of materials, quality of materials used in projects and delivering projects on time.
He continued, “This is a big issue for us in the Ministry of Public Works, but it should also be an issue for the GAPE and for individual engineers working on various projects.”
At the event Attorney-at-law and Engineer Emily Dodson was presented with a certificate of fellowship for her contribution to the profession.
Fellowship is the highest grade of membership of the Engineering Institution. It may be awarded if you are or have been engaged in a position of responsibility in the promotion, planning, design, construction, maintenance or management of important engineering work.