Bewildering that Hope Canal excavation has been halted because of weather

Dear Editor,
In a SN article of Dec. 16, it was reported that Agriculture Minister Persaud has temporarily halted excavation of the Hope Canal because of adverse weather which he claimed threatened the integrity of the excavators and/or excavation.

This pronouncement is bewildering because those who are familiar with the terrain through which this Canal will traverse know that weather conditions should not have affected the operation of excavators/excavation to the extent that work had to come to a halt since a major segment of the proposed Canal from the Seawall to the Crown Dam could be excavated all year round irrespective of weather conditions which most likely will slow operations but not stop work. After all there was a deadline to meet. Guyanese contractors with their team of experienced excavator operators have in the past carried out more complex excavation works under severe weather and very poor soil conditions at Tapakuma, Boerasirie, Black Bush Polder and elsewhere than

those now being experienced at Hope Canal.  Excavation works at these projects were never shut down because of weather conditions. If their operations were weather dependent and the contractors were waiting for ideal conditions to execute their work, they will still be excavating. According to statements made previously by the Secretary of the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA), this Agriculture Division had the capability to undertake earthen works cheaper and better than private contractors and that is why excavation of the Hope Canal was not put out for public tendering. Recent events have shown the fallacy of this decision.

Substantial expenditure of public funds with no end in sight has been made on the Hope Canal Project thus far with no transparent information on total costs, partial payments, construction progress and completion time. Excavation of the Canal is now on hold for a reason still fuzzy and with Minister Persaud likely to leave office in five months or so and a deadline to complete the 10.3 km long Canal before end of Yr 2012, it is reasonable to assume that the incoming administration in Yr 2011 may very well scrub this ill-conceived Project with a severe financial burden for us all
to bear.

Finally, if indeed adverse weather condition had threatened the integrity of the excavators to perform thus causing a halt to excavation of the Canal, it may very well be that NDIA invested millions of scarce dollars on equipment which was ill-suited to carry out work under weather and soil conditions which were well known to those responsible for approving their specifications in the first instance and then making the decision for their purchase. They should be held culpable for their faux pas.

Yours faithfully,
Charles Sohan

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