Mystery surrounds the plans for a $600M government complex, which has been under construction over the past three years at the junction of High and Princes streets, in the city.
Construction of the 65,000-square feet complex, being built on the plot of land that housed the former Guyana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC), was halted during the first quarter of this year.
The works began in 2008 and the facility, which was initially intended to house the Ministry of Labour and its decentralised offices, was slated for completion the following year. Labour Minister Manzoor Nadir told this newspaper on Monday that the building has since been reallocated to another agency.
This newspaper understands that the authorities had decided to place the centralised services of the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) at the building and the body was expected to take up occupancy of the complex in September last year. Commissioner General of the GRA Khurshid Sattaur told this newspaper that he could not pronounce on the building’s current state. The GRA’s various units, including Customs House, its VAT offices and the Internal Affairs Department, among others, were to be housed at the complex.
Sattaur explained that in September last year, the building was allocated to the GRA but the agency has been awaiting its completion in order to relocate. He noted that GRA officials had toured the facility and he said that the GRA was ready to move into the building whenever it is completed.
He said that the state’s holding company, the National Industrial and Commercial Investment Limited (NICIL), would be able to pronounce on the building’s future. However, NICIL head Winston Brassington was not available yesterday to comment.
Since construction was halted during the first quarter of this year, this newspaper understands that vagrants and other elements have been frequenting the site.
The building, according to a former worker, was more than 70% completed, with interior works and general painting being among the final areas to be done.
During a visit to the site, this newspaper observed thick bush taking over the building’s exterior, while the fence located on the northern perimeter was also overgrown with grass. Residents in the area noted that several persons were making attempts to remove steel and glass windows from the building in recent weeks but public spirited citizens thwarted these bids. It was noted too by a nearby householder that while the gates to the site are padlocked, vagrants have been occupying sections of the structure at nights. She said persons have reported that sections of the walls within the building carry huge cracks but this could not be verified by this newspaper.
Several months ago, Nadir had noted that the building’s contractor was experiencing difficulties sourcing materials for the project, while the weather also played a part in delaying works.
In 2001, a decision was taken by government to construct a new building after the Labour Ministry’s operation was decentralised following a fire.
The Ministry is presently housed at Cornhill and Water streets, with other locations at Brickdam, Camp Street and North Road.
Construction started in April 2008, and the original deadline for completion was the end of December that year. However, owing to problems obtaining construction material and the weather, a five-month extension was granted to contractor Kishan Bacchus.
However, the project has remained behind schedule.