A portion of land on the University of Guyana (UG)’s Turkeyen Campus has been cleared as part of initial works to construct a new headquarters along with four labs and equipment for the Government Analyst Food and Drug Department (GA-FDD).
Kaieteur News understands that some $100M has been budgeted for the three-year project this year with future expenditure estimates of $600M in 2019 and $400M in 2020.
The new GA-FDD headquarters and lab is to be constructed a few yards from the Guyana Forensic Science Laboratory (GFSL), which cost taxpayers $1B and is yet to be fully operational, due to defects over air quality and other issues.
GA-FDD is currently housed at the Institute of Applied Science and Technology on UG’s campus and serves as the regulatory body for drugs, food and beverages which are imported, and also those that are destined for export markets.
There is the view among officials that the current facility is adequate.
The Ministry of Public Health, which is responsible for the department, has advertised for expressions of interest to design, build and equip the department’s new labs and office complex.
According to the Ministry, the scope of works include the construction of a 30,000 square feet, steel framed, two-storey building to house four labs and office complex on a 1.14 acres of landscape garden-type land.
Interested companies are being asked to include in the designs, external storage bonds for both chemical and other materials; ramp, lift, waste disposal system for gas and chemicals, solar installation and other relevant requirements.
Further, among the requirements is the design of four labs to be constructed to ‘internationally accredited’ standards and complaint with the international building requirements and housed under a single roof with office complex to accommodate approximately 60 staff with provision for an additional 10 auxiliary staff.
The Ministry expects that the subsequent contract will provide for the equipping of the facilities with the adequate office furniture and the lab equipment to perform tests, such as microbiology, chemistry (both gas and chemicals), and solar installation.
“The department will be a green field project aimed at kick-starting an aggressive technical capacity to allow Guyana to insulate its populace against substandard items of food, drugs, cosmetics and medical devices traded on its market,” the Ministry has pointed out.
The Ministry has put forward the position that the complex will be digitised and paperless in the processing and handling of analysis and test results.
“This department will be a centre of excellence for academic teaching and training of university students from the Agriculture, Science and Health Science Faculties,” the Ministry stated.
With numerous concerns over the expenditure for the forensic lab and the absence of critical services, there is likely to be greater scrutiny on the new plans announced by the Ministry of Public Health.
The forensic lab was opened in 2014 at Turkeyen under the People’s Progressive Party/Civic administration, but by February 2017, the coalition Government found issues with the building. In February 2O07, Cabinet approved an additional US$32,524 for the lab to be operationalised.
Currently, that lab cannot undertake critical DNA tests, leaving police investigators to send samples overseas for results.
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