By Kiana Wilburg
Considering the damage done to the Brazil/Guyana fibre optic cable project due to grave mismanagement, Leader
of A Partnership National Unity, David Granger, asserted yesterday, that the venture might very well be at “death’s door.”
There have been harsh criticisms from some political quarters, following the pronouncement by Cabinet Secretary, Dr. Roger Luncheon, that the fibre optic cable scheme suffered several failures. While he insisted that the project has not collapsed, he described its current stage as being “remedial.”
Dr. Luncheon had said that the project which was started in 2011, endured several setbacks due to defaulting contractors and supervising firms. He had noted, however, that legal action was filed against those directly responsible but no ruling on how they should be penalized was made as yet.
He disclosed that he is in talks with a local firm and another of a neighbouring country, on completing the project.
Granger however said that A Partnership for National Unity is of the view that the ambitious project was placed in the wrong hands from the start. This, the APNU Parliamentarian said, was as a result of the opaqueness of the government procedures with regard to the venture and that it was not subject to a competitive process.
The politician said that the selected head of the unit was not required to demonstrate any experience or knowledge of the project with which he was put in charge of, and it is for these reasons, he felt that it was very badly flawed from the start. Heading the project is the President’s son, Alexei Ramotar.
Granger told members of the media yesterday during his weekly press conference, that he does not know if the project could be salvaged and that “it might be at death’s door.”
“I don’t know that the damage caused by mismanagement can be corrected at this point in time.”
The resuscitation of the project is expected to cost taxpayers another huge sum of money, but Granger said that he would not support this. About $1B has already been wasted. The politician asserted that he will not support it unless there is a careful study or review of the entire project by experts to determine whether it is worthwhile continuing, or whether it will be safe at all.
He emphasized as well, that the first step would be to take the project out of the hands of those who have it where it is.
Leader of the Alliance For Change (AFC), Khemraj Ramjattan, had also said that projects conducted in stealth and secrecy invariably reek of suspicion and corruption. The dying Brazil/Guyana fibre-optic cable project is a prime example of this.
He had insisted that were it transparent and done in “daylight”, the planners would have been forced to do a checklist of all the potential hazards, thus being able to plan effectively. But when it is done in haste, the politician had said it is logical for one to expect it to falter.
The attorney-at-law said that while Dr. Luncheon preferred to not use the word collapse, but rather that the project is in a “remedial” stage, the Cabinet Secretary is not being forthright in his assessment of the situation.
“It will continue to cost Guyana millions of dollars which will go down the drain because of corrupt transactions behind the scenes.”
Dr. Luncheon had stated that while Guyana is not accessing the bandwidth, it has incurred some debt with the Brazilians.
“Well I would hate to say this publicly, 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 a year for bandwidth connection on the project,” The Cabinet Secretary had said. However, the Project Manager, Alexei Ramotar, via a telephone conversation had insisted that Guyana is not receiving any bandwidth, and as such, he is not aware that Guyana owes the neighbouring country a cent.
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