Head of the Presidential Secretariat, Dr. Roger Luncheon, denies that the approximately US$32M Brazil/Guyana fibre
optic cable venture has collapsed.
Dr. Luncheon preferred to say that the cable which is part of the E-Governance project headed by the President’s son, Alexei Ramotar, suffered some failures but that it is in a remedial stage. Several persons, he said, have been hauled before the courts for lending to the state of the project.
Dr. Luncheon was adamant that the project was not scrapped or abandoned. He said that he is currently involved in negotiations with a local firm and another of a neighbouring country on concluding the project.
“I for one am engaged in negotiations but I have to be hesitant in these days of prorogation. I am involved in discussions with a local firm and one from a neighbouring country to conclude the rehabilitation of the existing cable that traverses the over 200 kilometers from its entry point in Lethem to its termination here at Castellani in Georgetown… but in so saying (the project) is obviously in need of being remedied.”
Dr. Luncheon said that the project has attracted “a pretty penny”. This is the construction itself which he estimated to have cost over a billion dollars. The construction, he said, involved moving and excavating to the required standard and purchasing the lengths of cable to bring the project from its entry point in Lethem all the way to Georgetown.
The Cabinet Secretary said that some time, probably around 2011 and 2012 it was recognized that significant failures had occurred. He said that this is regarding contractors and meeting their obligations with supervisory firms and commitments in the development and unfolding of the project.
He noted that while this is the case, his current discussions will see him giving direction on how renovation and correction of the defects that have been documented can be dealt with.
Significantly, Dr. Luncheon said that while Guyana is not accessing the bandwidth, it has incurred some debt with the Brazilians.
“Well I would hate to say this publically, but we haven’t paid them for the connection. We do have a contract to purchase bandwidth but the mechanism to access it hasn’t kicked in. The Brazilians have been understanding.
“We owe some US$76,000 US a year for bandwidth connection on the project,” the Cabinet Secretary said.
A Government source close to the project, had informed Kaieteur News that there was continuous breakage to the cable along the way. The project was planned poorly as incorrect cable lengths were ordered and independent supervisors were reportedly fired.
Physical works for the laying of cable began in April 2011 but poor weather conditions and the absence of appropriate equipment were cited for the slothfulness of contractors.
On the Brazil side, Globonet, a subsidiary of Oi, the largest telephone company of that neighbouring country, had landed the fibre optic cable to the border.
The E-governance project was touted to feature a data centre, a transmission network and data network. The data centre, or control centre, is to be housed in the compound of Castellani House.
The transmission network stretches from Moleson Creek on the Corentyne Coast to Charity on the Essequibo Coast, reportedly using fibre optic cable of the Guyana Power and Light Inc. The Brazil cable is part of the network too.
By way of the access network, all major Government facilities in the coverage areas are intended to be connected via fibre optic and/or 4G wireless Cellular services.
Government had announced that the connection would have allowed for, in addition to connectivity, a range of services such as “E-Health” allowing for video consultation, movement of information from one health centre to another and tracking disease outbreaks.
Regarding security, the project would allow quick transmission of information including video and data between police stations.
In education, the project would set up an “E-library” which would allow for access to textbooks and other teaching aids that can be used by students and schools, thereby lowering cost.
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