…to ensure competent professionals undertake Govt. contracts – Senior Lecturer
Senior Lecturer within the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Guyana,
Bruce Haynes, believes that there is a need for the passage of an Engineers Act of Guyana, to ensure that competent personnel are allowed to undertake government contracts.
In an interview with Kaieteur News, Haynes explained that what is common now is that persons are putting random engineers together to form a company and bid for contracts. Haynes emphasised that being qualified does not make an engineer competent. As such, there needs to be a legal framework, whereby engineers can be rated based on experience.
“Being an engineer calls for experience, you cannot just turn up and say give me your business.”
Haynes believes that the experience of engineers should be used in developing a comprehensive ranking system. In this way the state would be aware of the capacity of engineers employed by contracting companies and placed in charge of government projects.
To do this, Haynes suggested that the Guyana Engineers Act should empower or upgrade the status of the Guyana Association of Professional Engineers (GAPE), whereby the organisation can act as an oversight body of all engineers in Guyana, regardless of speciality.
Haynes, who has been a professional for over 21 years, said that currently, GAPE is primarily involved in registering engineers, but it needs to go beyond that. He explained that a database of engineers coupled with work they would have done and the standard of such work should be recorded so as to inform future decisions when awarding contracts.
Haynes explained that this is a common practice in the United States and the United Kingdom. He believes that starting at the level of GAPE, together with the implementation of the Engineers Act, would be the best way to go in order to monitor and evaluate engineering professionals.
The engineer believes that the Public Procurement Commission Act should have been bolstered with the Engineers Act to strengthen the prequalification process when awarding contracts.
Haynes said that currently there is no system in place to recommend which contractors are qualified to embark on particular projects. He is of the opinion that this can be addressed if GAPE is given the legal support via the Engineers Act.
When asked about sanctioning measures for rogue engineers, Haynes said that if GAPE is allowed to rank engineers, it would reduce the instances of faulty work being done, so instituting sanctions would be minimal. However, in the event that sloppy work is done or regulations are breached, the legal framework, which is the Act, would make appropriate provisions relative to the particular breach.
In March of this year, former President of GAPE, Joel Trotman had lamented that the issue of having an Engineers Act seemed to have fallen on deaf ears. He had said that the organisation had been calling to have the revised Guyana Engineers Bill of 1999 to see smooth passage in the National Assembly.
According to Trotman, the need for the Act is hinged on the fact that it would help to settle the never-ending argument of who really qualifies to be an engineer in Guyana.
In recent times, several government contracts have come in for intense scrutiny as shoddy work was being produced. Last August, President David Granger announced on his weekly show ‘The Public Interest’, that the contracting company responsible for the defect-riddled Kato Primary School, would not be awarded contracts of a similar nature.
An audit of the project showed that 60 percent of the project had defects, with another 30 percent just over the borderline. Only about 10 percent of the project was deemed structurally sound.
Moreover, Chartered Accountant, Anand Goolsarran had said that Guyana’s weak public procurement system led to the loss of millions of dollars annually. He described it as a broken system which often sees contractors providing shoddy work with little or no consequences, while stressing that the time is now to show that Government means business. He reported that currently the country loses approximately $28B annually due to the existing procurement system.
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