By Edison Jefford
Costing $1.084 billion, Guyana’s first Synthetic Track and Field Facility was officially
opened at Leonora, West Coast Demerara, yesterday, just seven months short of completing five years after commencing construction in December 2010, and under inclement weather that, according to the Parliamentary Secretary within the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport, Alfred King was aimed at testing the excellent drainage at the all-weather facility.
President Donald Ramotar, who delivered the featured address at the ceremony that mostly sport enthusiasts, government officials and schools attended, indicated that Guyana will be able finally able to host “mega events”. “We hope that regional and international competition will come here, as that would help promote tourism development,” Ramotar added.
He said that sport has “a big role to play in academics”. Along that line, he implored the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport to work together to develop sport; he said that he believes sport can help in the creation of national unity.
“It’s important that we acknowledge the importance of sports in building cohesion in countries as ours which is multicultural and multiethnic,” the Head of State said, adding that sport also aides in the development of health and wellness for the nation.
Parliamentary Secretary, Steve Ninvalle was Chairperson of the occasion that the
National Steel Orchestra, National School of Dance and religious groups made special through presentations. It also included remarks from the Guyana Football Federation (GFF), which has been earmarked to utilise the football field that adorns the centre of the rubberised track.
“We should all feel proud that the Government has given us an IAAF certified facility,” Ninvalle stated, alluding to the fact that the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) gave certification of international standard to the facility.
Athletics Association of Guyana President, Aubrey Hutson echoed Ninvalle’s sentiment when he said that “Government, in its usual supportive role, has given us a facility that we could be proud of as Guyanese. We will treat the facility with respect; it will be used for training and preparation for international meets,” he added.
Visibly, the rubberised track at Leonora has been laid while the two spectator stands, and the VIP Lounge toward the northern end of the facility have been completed. The toilet facility, and flood lights were also noticeable. However, the outlines of the track and the parking lot still lay in mud at yesterday’s Opening Ceremony.
Director of Sport, Neil Kumar was too hoarse to speak and thus cut short his speech with clearly uncharacteristically brief remarks. “I am happy to be at this opening of the Synthetic Track. God bless our athletes,” Kumar said.
Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport, Dr. Frank Anthony said that yesterday was a great day for the development of sports in Guyana. He said that the track will allow athletes to train harder and minimise injuries because the rubber absorbs shock.
He stated that IAAF has regarded the track as a “gold standard”, and the new facility is similar to the track that Usain Bolt uses for training in Jamaica. According to Anthony, the parking lot is to be asphalted and used as an entertainment complex similar to what obtains outside of the Guyana National Stadium at Providence.
Important Facts about Synthetic Facility
In 2010, Anthony said that their flagship infrastructure project will be the development of the synthetic athletics track in his budget presentation.
The Engineers Estimate for Phase One of the synthetic track project was $145M, and Courtney Benn’s bid was submitted at $124, 960, 227M.
Phase One included drainage and irrigation works, construction of two culverts, main access road among other land preparation works.
Phase One of the project was given a stipulated deadline of six months to be ready for the laying of the track.
Phase II, which comprised putting down the actual synthetic track was given to German-based Company, BSW Regupol.
BSW Regupol had signed a $93,000,000M contract for Phase II of the Facility. Regupol laid a similar-type track that was used at the World Championships in Berlin 2009. The company also laid the track at the Mona Campus, University of West Indies and at the Jamaican National Stadium.
Director of the oversight consulting company, Design and Construction Services Limited (DCSL), Patrick Pitt, has had fallout with the Government, alleging that they did not honour their contractual agreement with his firm.
In addition, Kaieteur Sport is aware that at least two contractors were taken to Court to recover monies spent for providing substandard work.
In 2012, at an update on the facility, the estimated cost to complete the entire facility was given at US$5M.
However, yesterday contrary to the 2010 commencement, Alfred King said that construction on the facility began in December, 2011 and the first projected cost of the facility was US$ 7M that is US$2M less than what was disclosed in 2012.
In April 2013, it was disclosed that a total of $870M has been spent on the facility thus far… that was the last update on cost to build the facility until it was disclosed yesterday that $1.084 billion has been spent for construction to-date.
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