It takes longer in Guyana
One of the things that never cease to amaze the professionals in the society is the length of time it takes to complete even the simplest task. To acquire a birth certificate is a gargantuan task. People travel miles to the office of the Registrar General and would have to leave without the document.
This is not to say that the clerks are sluggish. Rather, it is the fact that they need to check the records, given the extent of forgery in the society.
It is the same with the passport. Each day, despite the various measures that the authorities have put in place, the Passport Office is full of people. One is left to wonder why is it that a country with less than a million people appears to be incapable of producing enough of the travel document.
Again, forgery is one of the root causes. People would go to the United States Embassy in Georgetown seeking a visa and would be denied. They would leave the embassy with the denial stamped in the passport and proceed to destroy the document. Having destroyed the document they would then seek a new one under the pretext that the previous document was lost.
However, these are minor compared to the other things that take a long time to be fashioned or completed. More than a year ago, the Ministry of Works issued a tender for the rehabilitation of the ferry stellings at Parika and Supenaam. The project should have been completed within four weeks; it took more than a year.
The ferries that came as a gift from China and forced the modification of the stellings at Parika and Supenaam were rehabilitated, and it took longer than usual before they too could have become operational.
It is not that Guyana is without skills; rather it is a case of Guyanese having grown accustomed to working at a pedantic rate. Unless they are driven, the workers will do the barest minimum in a given day. But in this world today, people should produce to the optimum.
At present, the nation is undertaking a host of major projects. There is the expansion of the Cheddi Jagan International Airport, being done by some Chinese contractors. One clause in the contract is that the Chinese be provided with at least ten hours of working conditions per day. Guyanese have grown accustomed to working no more than eight hours. Any extra hour is deemed overtime.
Then there is the work on the Marriott Hotel. Again the Chinese are going to demand extended hours of work. They are accustomed to working round-the-clock, splitting the labour force into shifts. The Guyanese employed on these projects are going to find themselves exposed to a new work ethic. But there is often resistance to change, and one will certainly see multiple approaches to the trades unions and the possibility of strikes, over what the Guyanese would describe as harsh work conditions.
Then there are the works on the four-lane highways being constructed in Guyana. These have been ongoing for a very long time. Motorists would often find stalled works because the work day ends shortly after 16:00 hours.
Guyana therefore has the unique distinction of working on a major thoroughfare within the same schedule as the office worker. In any other country the work on the roads, given their importance, would have progressed round-the-clock. This would have been necessary to ease the very congestion that sparked the road expansion programme.
Instead, for two or more years, Guyana has massive excavations alongside its main thoroughfares. These excavations are to accommodate road works, but these are going nowhere. True to tradition, everything in Guyana does take an inordinately long time to get done.
However, there are examples of real Guyanese determination and ingenuity. When the Demerara Harbour Bridge collapsed recently, workers worked night and day to effect the repairs. It would have been interesting if they had opted to work like those who insist on an eight-hour work-day. Even those who insist on working eight hours per day would have vented their spleen.