How did the Chinese come up with a credit of US$14M for building the Marriott Hotel?

Dear Editor,

No one knows for sure the true cost of this Marriott Hotel. Initially it was reported to cost US$64M with 160 rooms.

When questioned recently Mr Brassington of Nicil stated the cost to construct the hotel was US$65M with 197 rooms and was based on using Guyanese workers. However, a credit of US$14 M was offered by the Chinese construction company to use Chinese workers because they will more control them. I have done all sorts of mathematical computations and cannot come up with how the Chinese arrived at this credit of US$14M. According to Mr Brassington the Chinese contractor was the lowest of the bidders. There is no information on who prepared the documents for bidders to tender on and who the rest of the bidders are, and therefore it leaves room for allegations that there appears to be some hanky panky in this whole process.

The Marriott is no top-of-the-line hotel and could easily be constructed by Guyanese workers. Mr Brassington’s claim that Guyanese do not have the expertise to build the hotel is simply ridiculous. I feel the government should not be in the hotel business and should leave same to the private sector. The occupancy rate of hotels in Guyana is in the 20% range, and it will take years for the government to re-coup the cost for this hotel. Even at US$51M the cost of constructing the hotel is high.

Similarly, the new US$130M to US$150M airport will also be built exclusively by Chinese workers. Some time ago, when this airport was awarded to the Chinese contractor I wrote a letter stating that the Chinese would only use their own forces to construct it, but no one responded. I worked in Hong Kong as an engineer for a number of years and am familiar with their work ethics. Building a 7-gate airport when only 2 gates would be in use at any one time is simply a waste of money. Guyana is a third world country and upgrading the runway and modifications to the existing building are all that is necessary. Trinidad’s new airport has 8 gates and only about 2 are used at any one time.

I feel the money spent could be used in fixing the coastal infrastructure, which is in a disastrous state and has not been maintained for several years. It was recently reported that the Torani Canal is a poor state, the banks are slipping and the canal is silted up. Water from this canal is discharged into the Canje Creek for use by the sugar estates and by various D&I schemes including the cattle pasture, 52-74 areas, etc. I do not agree with Mr Bhim who recently stated in the press that the silted Torani is not a problem. The Torani Canal needs to be widened and the depth increased. Water from the Torani into the Canje keeps salt water from intruding up the Canje Creek. Similar problems also exist with the MMA Scheme where poor maintenance over the years has led to severe flooding along the main façade. The sea defences are also in very poor shape. The recent severe overtopping in the Georgetown and Kitty areas indicated the foreshore has eroded. The government is no longer monitoring the foreshore levels and no one knows what is going on.

In a few years the government could be faced with the dreaded R word − Re-alignment of the sea defences or abandonment of the area.

Yours faithfully,
M Alli

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