May 22, 2011 News
Activist and chartered accountant, Christopher Ram, has blasted the government over what he calls the “secrecy” involving the planned Amaila Falls Hydro Electricity project that is slated to cost up to US$700 million.
“This government has been guilty of no truth, half truths and distortions” with regard to the project, Ram said in a recent interview.
Ram wondered who was ultimately responsible for making the decisions regarding the project, saying that whoever is, could not be patriotic or interested in the development of Guyana.
“One has to wonder if they are interested in their own personal development, the development of their pockets and those who are their supporters and friends,” he stated.
Ram has blasted the government for not being forthright in dispending information to the public.
“I believe the government has a duty to consult and inform people in matters affecting their welfare and their future,” he declared.
He said that it seems that “it is only when their backs are against the wall” and “when secrecy is no longer an option” that this government ever opens its mouth.
Ram has challenged a statement by Prime Minister Samuel Hinds that the original Amaila Falls Hydro Project developer, Makeshwar ‘Fip’ Motilall, spent an estimated US$5M for works on the project before he handed over the licence to the current developer Sithe Global.
Ram, also an Attorney-at-law, said that Motilall’s financial record does not reflect the expense the Prime Minister talks about.
A senior executive of Sithe Global has said that Motilall would be entitled to compensation for passing on the licence.
Motilall was in possession of a licence to develop the hydro project for 13 years, and when he finally realised the project was too much for him to handle, he agreed for the government to hand the licence with some amendments to Sithe Global, Head of the Presidential Secretariat Dr Roger Luncheon indicated last week.
“Government…has a duty to ensure that those salesmen and opportunists who come to our country to take advantage of our gullibility are guarded against,” Ram stated.
In the case of Amaila Falls, Ram said that it appears as if the government “colluded and collided” with Mr Motilall for in excess of 13 years “during which he has been holding this country to ransom” over the hydro electrification. “(It is) as though there was no one else in the world” the government could have been talking to, to develop Amaila Falls.
In addition, Ram is charging that while the duty of a government must be first and foremost to ensure laws of the land are scrupulously followed, in this case the laws have been “violated and not complied with.”
Less than six months after Motilall realised he could no longer develop the Amaila Falls Hydro Project and agreed to have the licence granted to Sithe Global (October, 2009), Government handed him a US$15.4 million contract to build roads and bridges leading to the project site.
Ram fears that the problems associated with the project would redound to Guyanese in that electricity would be no cheaper than it is now and that this would only come decades later when billions upon billions of dollars are paid off and the assets revert to the government.
The government announced the award of the contract to Motilall on March 26, 2010.
Synergy Holdings was given the first notice to proceed on October 5 last year for some sections of the road, while the green light for the other section through virgin rainforest was given on January 11, this year.
Those bidding for the contracts were asked to provide their experience in similar large scale projects together with references and credentials, and detail the equipment he owns and would require to carry out the project.
Synergy Holdings has come under the radar over its experience in building roads and its ability to carry out the project. The company’s contract is for the upgrade of approximately 85 kilometers of existing roadway and the design and construction of approximately 110 kilometers of new road.
The works also include building bridges across the Essequibo and Kuribrong rivers.
In addition, the contract takes into account clearing the way for the installation of a 65-kilometre transmission line. The Amaila Falls hydro-project is now expected to supply 165-megawatts of electricity to the country and this will significantly free up resources used to buy fuel to generate electricity.
The Amaila site is located on the Kuribrong River, a tributary of the Potaro River in west central Guyana.
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