The Guyana National Industrial Company (GNIC) announced on August 29 that it had completed, under contract to the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA), construction of eight stainless steel (SS) rectangular gates with accompanying guides for the Hope Canal Project (HCP) on the East Coast of Demerara. Fabrication was stated to have been completed since early August but delivery to site is yet to be made.
The supply and installation of these gates were part of the contract awarded to Courtney Benn Construction (CBC) but the fabrication was apparently taken away from the Contractor by NDIA and given to GNIC, while CBC retained its contractual responsibility for installation.
The unilateral termination of contract works by a Client during contract execution could have complex and messy outcomes, particularly so since this contract already has large time and cost overruns and the underlying problems relating to the settlement of these issues with respect to impending penalties (if imposed) could be time consuming and costly.
It was expected that the Govt. would have used its experience of contractually dealing with ‘Fip’ Motilall, the failed contractor for the Amaila Falls road, but it seems no lesson was learned and at the end of it all, costly slug-fests resolving Govt. contract disputes will continue at the expense of the Guyanese people.
The SS rectangular gates to be electrically operated by power from GPL and a standby power plant will take considerable time to install, provided all the components are on site and ready to be fitted. Experience has shown that components for remotely operated gates tend to be missing/broken at time of site delivery and therefore an unusually long lead time would be necessary for assembly and test runs to get this sluice operational, and hence these procedures cannot be completed come Sept. 30, as GPL is still to bring power to the site to operate the gates.
Agriculture Minister Dr. Ramsammy stated last July that the HCP will eventually be completed at the end of this month after several completion deadlines during the past year had failed to materialize. It is the understanding given to Guyanese that project completion means that flood waters from the East Demerara Water Conservancy (EDWC) could be safely discharged at its designed capacity into the Atlantic Ocean via the head regulator, 11 km canal and sluice, come Sept. 30.
Unfortunately, construction progress suggests otherwise. There is no way the HCP could be completed during the next four weeks as many of its components are yet to arrive on site, be fitted and tested before the sluice becomes functional. Also, segments of the canal are yet to be dug and its embankments and berms shaped and raised to design elevations. Stabilizing the canal’s embankments from the Crown Dam to the EDWC Dam and clearing the Canal and its embankments of weeds and bushes are still in the works. Then there are ancillary works not part of the HCP which will require additional funding for completion before flood water could be discharged by the Hope Canal.
These works are a stable channel to be dug northwards from the sluice to the Ocean through a shoal of sling mud on the foreshore, tie-ins of the sea dam and canal embankments to the abutments of the sluice and tie-ins of the EDWC dam and canal embankments to the abutments of the head regulator.
President Ramotar should take note as to the number of times Minister Ramsammy has been bluffing and giving misleading assurances to the Guyanese people as to when the HCP will be functionally completed and that its final cost will be within budget. He should be given one more opportunity to state definitively as to when the HCP will be completed and at what cost, failing which his assignment as Minister of Agriculture should be terminated for his consistent failure to perform whether its completion of the HCP within the specified time and cost, GuySuCo’s yearly production target shortfalls and large debt accumulation, complete installation at selected locations of the drainage pumps bought from India, the timely payments to farmers for their paddy and the list just goes on and on.
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