Design contract awarded for conservancy relief channel

The contract to provide consultancy services for the design of the much debated Hope Conservancy Relief Channel was awarded on Thursday to Cemco/ SRKN’gineering in association with the UK-based Mott MacDonald company.

Raymond Latchmansingh (second from left) signing the contract. (GINA photo)
Raymond Latchmansingh (second from left) signing the contract. (GINA photo)

Consultant Raymond Latchmansingh signed the contract on behalf of the companies on Thursday, at a simple ceremony held in the boardroom of the Ministry of Agriculture.

The value of the contract is $56,416,415 and will see various surveys being done in the area identified for the channel. This project will see the firm conducting hydrological and reservoir studies, hydraulic engineering and flood routing studies, hydrographic surveys, engineering and typographic surveys as well as geotechnical investigations, over a 16-week period.   After the findings of these various surveys have been analysed, work on the channel is expected to commence.

The proposed $3 billion relief channel is intended to drain the East Demerara Water Conservancy (EDWC) into the Atlantic Ocean, serving as a more efficient and less destructive means of releasing water from the conservancy. At the moment, when the EDWC is at a dangerous level, water from the conservancy is drained through the Maduni and Lama sluices and this has caused catastrophic flooding in the Mahaica and Mahaicony areas.

However, there are mixed views about this proposed construction, as several experienced engineers have opined that the construction of the channel is not the best option to drain the EDWC, since there are other cheaper and more effective options available.  Minister of Agriculture Robert Persaud, however, has repeatedly said that the decision to construct this canal is being done on the best technical advice.

Meanwhile the contracts for two other projects were awarded to Harrychand Toolsie. One was for the rehabilitation of the Liliendaal Drainage Pump, which is valued at $76,150,000.

The second project is for the supply and installation of two new 50 cu. sec electrical drainage pumps at the Kitty station. The value of this project is $63,780,000 and the installation of these pumps is expected to increase the current drainage capacity of the area by 42.8 percent. The timeline for both these projects is three months. Both the Kitty and Liliendaal stations were in dire need of upgrading and had been under pressure during the flood periods particularly in 2005 and 2006.

Georgetown Mayor Hamilton Green, his deputy, Robert Williams and other officials from the Mayor and City Council were also present at the ceremony.  Green welcomed the projects and said that he was looking forward to their completion.  Meanwhile, he expressed the hope that after the projects are completed they will not be negatively affected by the shortcomings of the Guyana Power and Light. He called on the Minister to help in this regard as best as he could.

Minister Persaud said that the signing of the contracts was important since it marked the beginning of three very significant drainage projects. He said that this was becoming increasingly important with the effects of climate change. He further said that it was important to note that the contracts were awarded based on the public procurement process. He, however, said that he wished that this process could be more competitive but stated that there was not much they could do in this regard.

Chief Executive Officer of the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA) Lionel Wordsworth and its Chairman Walter Willis were also present.

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