The Ministry of Culture Youth and Sports has responded to the Kaieteur News article looking at the construction of the Olympic sized swimming pool. The ministry took umbrage with some aspects of the article. Here is the full text of the ministry’s response:
“The Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport, in the interest of its usual transparency and policy of public education, has decided to respond to two recent KAIETEUR NEWS picture-stories on the construction of the Olympic – Size National Swimming Pool at Pattensen, Lower East Coast, Demerara.
With an inelegant caption/sub-title “WHEN WILL IT FINISH”, the main article purports to “investigate” the cost of construction and delayed completion of the modern swimming-pool facility. However, the not-so-hidden agenda, perhaps political in nature at this time, reveals ulterior objectives other than just genuine concern for the use of taxpayers money or the quality of work being done.
THE LACK OF BALANCE
As usual, the basic tenet of responsible reporting was missing, that is, seeking to present balance in terms of seeking comments and clarifications from the Minister or Ministry, before rushing to print.
The Minister of Sport and his officials are among those government servants who are always willing to be interviewed. (Check the Sport pages!).
Seldom is Dr. Frank Anthony ever “unavailable” to honest, professional journalists, but as is its norm, Kaieteur News resorts to publishing one side, mis-leading the public, THEN pretending to follow-up with some official response.
The Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport readily accepts constructive criticism and even understands the Kaieteur News mission at this time. “Exposes” in the interest of political mileage rather than the public good will be the order of the day. The Freedom of the Press here guarantees them even that objective. However when, through innuendo, it is being suggested that the cost of construction rising “so inexorably” could be due to irregularity, that brand of journalism is unacceptable, and reeks of public mischief.
COSTS-AND-THE BARBADOS FACILITY
As stated before an initial contract was awarded to Kares Engineering Inc for $316,394M. His scope of works included the construction of the Olympic size swimming pool, the mound, the administrative building and the pump house, fencing and landscaping of the site among other works. In November, 2009 after a comprehensive technical review it was recommended that Kares Engineering Inc confines itself to specified works on the site, while international pool contractors Myrtha Pools, USA will provide us with a prefabricated pool solution.
This technical decision resulted in Kares Engineering Inc contract being reduced because of the new scope of works and Myrtha Pool, USA contracted. This decision was taken in November, 2009, and it was publicized then that the cost is $455 M (G) which was still within the range of the Engineer’s estimate of 425,127 M (+20%). The Ministry throughout this project has insisted on prudent management of its financial resources.
As an aside, it should be noted that in preparation for major sports events such as the Commonwealth Games in India, Olympic Games in London, that the civil works cost for many of the facilities have increased. According to an article on Wikipedia Britian’s aquatic facilities for the next (2012) Olympics was originally estimated at 75 million pounds, it is now revised to 303 million pounds, this has quadruple from original estimates!
Kaieteur News not-so-subtle DISHONESTY is also reflected in its attempted comparison of the Guyana National Swimming Pool, with the Barbados Amateur Swimming Association’s Aquatic Centre. What was cleverly omitted is the fact that the Private Sector in Barbados built that facility TWENTY-ONE (21) YEARS AGO! The original 1989 cost of $750,000, is bound to have increased at today’s calculations. Also after its two decades of hosting regional and international events there must have been several costly upgrades and enhancements to the Aquatic Centre.
We’re not “comparing” like facilities here but it is noteworthy that the Barbados Private Sector stepped forward twenty years ago to construct a modern facility for its country’s swimmers. No such offers or initiatives here, where the mantra is to ask or depend on “the government”.
The Ministry wonders who is the “Guyana Olympic Association member” who seems to be hinting at squandermania or corruption. Couldn’t his or her Association mobilize financial and human resources to construct a Pool as the Barbadians did? Is this member aware that the government has given land to the local Olympic Association for the construction of its facilities sometime now, yet nothing substantial has been built to date.
QUALITY OF WORK, DELAYS AND CONSISTENCY
The Kaieteur News reports that its latest visit to the Pool site revealed “cheap-looking cramped washroom facilities”, a “shoddily-done” VIP’s building, “the absence of a diving pool, a warm-up pool, and a covered stand for spectators” and that “the mound is still heavily grassed and unkempt.” This is a clear attempt by Kaieteur News, trying TO mislead the public; or just Kaieteur News contempt to good journalism.
The Ministry of Sport would once again like to state, that since the Minister’s last visit to the construction site substantial work has been done, these include the prefabricated pool constructed by Myrtha Pools, USA to be operational, several tests were done on the pumps and filtration systems.
Tests were also carried out on the chlorination system. The technical team is satisfied with the progress that has been made. In addition the Ministry has assigned staff that is currently being trained by the Myrtha Pool team, so that they can operate the pool properly.
The local contractor Kares Engineering Inc is required to complete all the other works in keeping with the contractual agreement. All site works are being supervised by E and A Engineering Consultants, a Georgetown-based Design and Engineering firm and Mr. Walter Willis from the Ministry of Works who is the government’s engineer on the project.
A timeline was submitted by the supervising technical team outlining that all works would be completed by the end of September, 2010. However in its latest assessment presented to the Ministry this has been shifted, because of some technical discussions relating to the backfilling around the pool. Once these technical and engineering details are sorted out a new date for the handing over of the facility will be set and also a subsequent date for its opening set. As had been our insistence throughout the project we prefer to incur a delay now to ensure that the technical and engineering details are correct, rather to hasten to a deadline.
We in the Ministry have been working hard and were consistently reviewing all the technical details and challenges to ensure the completion of the National Aquatic Center, and would like to assure the Guyanese public that we are building a facility that will meet FINA standards.
The Government of Guyana will continue to work hard in the development of sports infrastructure in our country. We will continue to be generous to the country’s responsible and accountable Sports Associations.
The evidence lies in the very recent significant monetary contributions and related concessions and donations to Rugby, Cricket, Boxing, Karate etc. Let not the Kaieteur News executives and editorial managers make journalistic charlatans out of its well-meaning Sports Reporters.
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