No reciprocity from the national body when local stakeholders try to work with it

Dear Editor,

Recently, I would have seen in one of the dailies that the Ministry of Works and IDB are conducting a feasibility study on the Linden-Lethem road. It is no secret that Brazilian business persons are anxious to see this carriageway upgraded so that movement by ordinary and freight vehicles can be enhanced. Two years ago Regional Chairman of Region 10, Mr Mortimer Mingo was invited to a SEBRAE exposition in Boa Vista and came back enthusiastically exhorting all stakeholders into serious action.

To complement his effort SEBRAE sent a team once more to Linden to interact with businesspersons and other stakeholders in the community even as they went to other parts of Guyana. We had a fruitful and encouraging engagement at the Egbert Benjamin Exhibition Hall & Conference Centre along with visits to various establishments. Prime Minister Samuel Hinds was there and threw in his support.

I was invited to a meeting in Prime Minister‘s office some time after to discuss matters relating to the national transportation grid. In our case it was the Linden-Lethem road and Mr Correia was there because they are involved in the Intraserv Bus transportation service, among other transportation services which his company provides. Very often this business is forced to close because of the state of this road. Among several matters discussed, Mr Leon Goring at that meeting pointed out that they were near the point of repairing the Pirara Bridge. The estimate was just under $300M. Mr Correia was livid and I was dumbstruck. Why? Earlier, stakeholders taking the lead from the Regional Chairman, IMC, Chamber of Commerce et al, agreed to play our part by providing our own local expertise in the development. One of our prominent metallurgists/fabricators was contacted and he journeyed with a team to Lethem (including senior officials of Works Services Group) to inspect 50 bridges all of which needed some level of repair.

The proposal submitted by Linden for these bridges would have seen construction done with high tension steel beams and reinforced concrete, built to last for at least 20 years with payloads of 100 tons. The Linden proposal had a cost averaging around $10M for each bridge. Being sure that we would be given an opportunity to build one to show off our skills and contribute to this major effort, a stony cold silence overcame this matter.

My recollection of Mr Correia’s concern was why spend so much on one bridge, when the others and the road would be repaired.

We heard bridges were washed away and we are appalled at the meanderings. Before that, our incessant questioning on the matter channelled us to a set of invitations to bid for repairs to the bridges. To our consternation we found out in the bid documents that the bridges would have required wood instead of reinforced concrete and high tension steel. Certainly, these will be affected by weight restrictions and the weather considering the current road conditions.

No doubt the fabricator and others were dejected and nonplussed at this development and indicated their disinterest.

Can you imagine the difference between $10M and $300M with the lower cost construction being 10 times superior to the higher cost facility? Haven’t we heard recently during the flooding that some bridges disappeared?

This is a typical example of local stakeholders trying to work with the national body for their own development which has national significance. Unfortunately, the reciprocity of trust, compromise and genuine willingness to work with the local stakeholders were not evident.

A few days ago your editorial spoke about the dust nuisance problem and I responded since blame fell on our council. The sweeping broom and the usual pan malady syndrome would accompany most of these local development matters. I am not a complaining man but the frustration caused by calling important people on important developments in your locale and getting fobbed off is perennial.

As such just add that we wrote several joint letters and made telephone calls on this matter. I am sure we are not singular in this regard.

Yours faithfully,
Orrin Gordon

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