By Tusika Martin
Work seems to have ground to a halt at the Skeldon Sugar Factory as the contractor awaits engineers and sugar cane to conduct another test run.
Yesterday, President Bharrat Jagdeo said that as soon as the contractor gets its engineers to Guyana and as soon as there is adequate supply of cane the factory will be tested again.
The Head of State had previously said that the China National Technology Import and Export Corporation (CNTIC) responsible for the construction of the factory will face liquated damages for the delay.
On September 15, 2008, Site Representative of China National Technology Import and Export Corporation (CNTIC), Andrew Jin told the media that the trial run showed that there were problems between the punt dumper and the conveyor belt, while, at the same time, difficulties have been encountered with the shredder bearings.
‘Choking’, he had said, was occurring when fresh water was pumped into the diffuser. This same problem recurred at the second and third evaporators.
Two days after it was announced that the factory was indeed having technical difficulties, Minister of Agriculture, Robert Persaud said that Guyana was examining legal options and remedies, which can be enforced against CNTIC.
The minister said that fines can be imposed under the contract signed between Guyana and the Chinese company. The fines can exceed US$5M.
Meanwhile, commenting on the ‘turn around plan’ to salvage the sugar industry, President Jagdeo said yesterday that the Interim Board met with the two trade unions that are representing workers in the sugar industry.
During the meeting the board outlined the ‘turn around plan’ with the Unions.
“This is key. We need to get production up…Workers have to work with management and work together to get the production up…If we do not get production up then the industry will be in jeopardy,” the President said yesterday.
Following the official handover of Skeldon factory, there are three further 72-hour tests which can be carried out by the owner during the next year. During that period, the contractor is still responsible for defects arising from those tests, despite the fact that the factory would be in commercial use.
The new factory is expected to produce 110,000 tonnes of sugar a year.
But even as the factory is yet to be up and running, the Guyana Sugar Corporation is experiencing major financial problems as the company ended last year with an almost $3B deficit.
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