Will the High and Princes streets edifice finally be completed?

Although bids are being sought for the rehabilitation of the government building at Princes and High streets, documentation relating to this seems to suggest that work would be geared towards completion of its construction rather than fixing defects.

The building, estimated to cost US$3 million, has been in limbo for more than four years and according to a former worker, it was more than 70% complete when construction was finally halted in the first quarter of last year. The Guyana Geology and Mines Commission issued last month’s invitation for bids.

Furthermore, there was no mention of plans to repair faulty work which was allegedly done by Kishan Bacchus Construction Company, which was initially contracted to complete the building.

Earlier this year, a source close to the contracting company had told Stabroek News that the building’s foundation was built with sub-standard material. He had also stated that the contractor had carried out work on the foundations and on the interior of the building that were in excess of the specifications.

It was also said that the ceiling of the building was improperly designed and as such the placement of air vents and other roofing works would have resulted in limited vertical space.

Since work on the building was halted the premises have been invaded by grass, weeds and vines which can be seen running along the north-eastern wall of the structure, and there have even been reports of vagrants and homeless persons occupying the building, as well as several cases of persons attempting to vandalise sections of the structure.

Up to February this year, the government had remained unforthcoming about the status of the building, and efforts to solicit a response from Winston Brassington, Head of the National Industrial and Commercial Investment Ltd (NICIL), who had taken control of the building, proved futile.

The Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU) had weighed in on the issue earlier this year suggesting that the silence of the government on the issue spoke volumes about the circumstances surrounding the project. “There have been allegations of possible corruption and collusion on this project, given the state of its incompletion, the monies disbursed so far and the huge cost overrun,” said GPSU President Patrick Yarde.

The GPSU also called on the Auditor General to execute a forensic investigation into the circumstances surrounding the award and subsequent execution of the contract for the High Street building, and for it to make recommendations on how to recoup monies inappropriately disbursed.

Government made a decision in 2001 to construct a new building to house the Labour Ministry after its operations had to be decentralized because of a fire. Construction commenced in April of 2008 and was slated for completion by the end of December the same year.

However, problems in obtaining construction material and adverse weather conditions saw a five-month extension granted to the contractor.

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