– worried about emergence of unchecked ship repairing facilities
The Guyana National Industrial Company (GNIC) says it has completed the construction of the eight sluice gates and accompanying guides for the Atlantic end of the Hope Canal which is currently under construction on the East Coast Demerara.
The completely stainless steel sluice gates were constructed in the company’s shipyard located on Lombard Street, within the prescribed two-month contract deadline.
According to GNIC’s CEO, Clinton Williams, the delicate construction was completed under the close supervision of Gilbert B.M. Corlette, a highly certified and very experienced welding/fabrication Quality Assurance Engineer. The gates and guides have been ready to be transported to their intended locations since the beginning of August.
GNIC was sub-contracted earlier this year by the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA) to construct the sluice doors and the guides that will facilitate their smooth vertical movement when the US$15M Hope Canal project goes into operation to alleviate flooding in the Mahaica/Mahaicony/Abary (MMA) areas.
Williams pointed out that the GNIC Shipyard is well equipped for a wide range of construction works such as ship building, ship repairs and maintenance of riverain and ocean-going vessels of all categories.
“For decades, the company, formerly GNEC, has been working in collaboration with the Transport and Harbours Department (T&HD), and the Maritime Administration Department (MARAD). On various occasions GNIC was called upon to do major structural repairs to the T&HD ferries, tugs, barges and other motor vessels, including privately owned ones that ply Guyana’s rivers and tributaries.”
However, he lamented “the pervasive, unchecked emergence of ship repair facilities” on the Parika Beach, East Bank Essequibo and in Berbice. He said that for years the presence of these smaller slips has had an adverse effect on the number of jobs coming to GNIC. In recent times, the company lost out on tendered docking and repair works on the Lady Northcote and the MV Makouria, as well as the supply of spare parts for T&HD vessels despite having submitted the lowest bids.
“The company’s management is now concerned about this apparent subtle blacklisting of their drydock.”
More recently, GNIC was declared the lowest bidder for a number of contracts for structural repairs to the MV Malali and the ML Thompson, and to fabricate uni-float pontoons and buoys for the bridges in the Amaila Falls Road Project and for the Demerara Harbour Bridge. GNIC also submitted the lowest bid for fabrication of 30 pairs of connecting posts for the Harbour Bridge and is currently awaiting the announcement of contract awards.”
Every passenger ferry that plies the Essequibo, Demerara and Berbice Rivers, ferrying passengers and cargo into interior regions, have spent time in the large GNIC dry dock undergoing major and minor repairs and reconstruction.
The MV Torani measuring 172’ x 37.5’ was actually built in the same shipyard and handed over spanking new to T&HD in October 1960. This was touted as the largest ship building job ever to have been undertaken in British Guiana and independent Guyana. The main deck was designed by the Ferguson Brothers of Port Glasgow, Scotland. It was this same Scottish shipbuilder who constructed the Torani’s sister ferry, the MV Makouria.
The history of GNIC dates back more than 150 years to the colonial era when the company was owned by a private Scottish entrepreneur, Hugh Sproston. Many remember the MV R.H. Carr that was, pre-1970, the sole means of transport between Mackenzie and Georgetown. “It seemed to hold a quiet romance” one senior citizen reminisced, “slipping through virgin jungles on either side of the Demerara River”. This ship was powered by steam originally (it was built in Saltney, Wales in 1927) before being converted in the Lombard St. Shipyard to use diesel fuel.
Sprostons became the Guyana National Engineering Corporation (GNEC) in 1976 then GNIC in 1995. The company has always traded on its spacious drydock which, with a max capacity of some 800 tons, remains one of the chief ship repair facilities in coastal Guyana, equipped with the necessary human expertise and mechanical facilities.
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