Sep 22, 2016 News
-Gov’t monitoring situation
A deal to import stone from Suriname for the multi-million-dollar expansion project at the Cheddi Jagan
International Airport (CJIA), Timehri, has sparked protests.
On Tuesday, news coming out from neighbouring Suriname revealed a major deal involving a state-owned mining company from that country.
The US$ 7.5M transaction will see 300,000 tonnes of crushed stone being exported over a period of 12 months for the airport project.
Following the story yesterday in Kaieteur News, one of the country’s leading quarries, Toolsie Persaud Quarries Inc. objected to the importation, saying that there are enough supplies here to meet the requirements of the Timehri project.
“We have a stockpile of over 90,000 tonnes now. There is enough stone in the country now to supply two times what the Timehri project is asking for,” says Rajesh Persaud, Chief Executive Officer and Director of the quarry company.
Contacted yesterday, Minister of Business, Dominic Gaskin, disclosed that indeed his attention was drawn to the report of the stone importation.
The Minister disclosed that from initial indications, it appears that the local supplies were not “reliable enough”.
However, Minister Gaskin said his conclusion was drawn from initial information conveyed to him. He has asked for more clarity and will continue to monitor the situation.
“It is natural that we would want our products— sand and stones included—without prejudice to external companies to benefit from our construction and other projects. We are looking at the situation,” he assured.
According to reports, Suriname’s state-owned mining company, Grassalco, recently secured the multi-million-dollar deal to supply crushed stone for the US$150M expansion of the CJIA.
Grassalco and Zhong Da International Engineering Company will deliver the material in partnership with the client, China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC), in Guyana.
CHEC is the Chinese contractor.
The contracts were signed by Grassalco’s Chief Executive Officer, Sergio Akiemboto, Wu Qiong, General Manager of Zhong Da International Engineering Company and Sun Wei, project-manager of China Harbour Engineering Company.
Zhong Da has been engaged with the Government of Guyana to build turn-key homes in Providence, East Bank Demerara.
The signing was reportedly preceded by an intensive process of negotiations which started in December 2015.
The first shipment of about 4,000 tonnes is expected to arrive on Tuesday. Grassalco’s CEO Akiemboto further noted that this deal will pave the way for the mining-company to secure more contracts in the region, and Grassalco will eventually play a major role in the economic development in the Caribbean as a supplier of crushed stone.
So far the Guyana-deal is the largest contract the state-owned company has signed with a foreign contractor, the news report said.
According to Persaud yesterday, his company has been doing business with CHEC and the Timehri airport for a while.
“We have been delivering as they ordered. We have also supplied aggregates for CHEC’s current construction works taking place at the MovieTowne site, at Turkeyen, East Coast Demerara.”
According to the executive, his company, one of the subsidiaries in the Toolsie Persaud Limited group, recently invested over $400M in retooling its plant, located at St. Mary’s, Essequibo River.
“We are unclear how this could happen. We have over 75 families whose lives are attached to our quarry and this will impact them tremendously. We depend on businesses like this to keep the operations going.”
Persaud explained that not only is the country losing royalties by bringing in the stone, but there is the ripple effect to the benefit accrued from producing and selling it locally.
“There is an even more important point to note here. We have here in Guyana one of the best stones that have a higher engineering specification than any other territories in the region. We have supplied stones before to the airport. We do have experience and the track record. And we are keeping our monies here, plugging it back into the economy.”
It is not the first time that local producers have objected to stones being imported. An attempt was announced in the 90s when the Essequibo coast road was being done. The attempt was reportedly abandoned.
Another attempted in the early 2000s also met with a similar fate.
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