There should be ‘tripartite leadership’ on the Amaila project

Dear Editor,

President Ramotar has stated to the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce at their dinner in December 2011 that Guyana is well poised for major advances including the hydro project.  Is this so?

The previous charge made against the PPP leaders – that they were not moving forward fast enough – failed to spark action against Fip Motilal, who is now one of the primary cogs in the wheel for completing Amaila. The Jagdeo regime was misfocused: not sufficiently concerned about delivery on the contract resulting in this road not being completed by a contractor who had no experience in building a $3 billion road.  What will President Ramotar do about this?

If Guyana does not move away from fossil fuels towards renewable energy, the omens are gloomy.  So what to do? Amaila Falls Hydro Project at full throttle!

The Ramotar administration must set up a tripartite committee of experts from the PPP, APNU and AFC, vested with the authority to oversee this project to the end.  Amaila is not a PPP thing, it is a Guyanese thing, and all Guyanese must be given an opportunity to put their brains and shoulders to the wheel to deliver Amaila.

Leaving Amaila in PPP hands alone is a guarantee of non-delivery of the project by 2016.  The Ramotar administration has to clearly define the objectives of our energy policies and use them to shape our energy future.  Silence and lethargy are not an option.

The investment needed for a clean energy future must be made one of the highest priorities by President Ramotar.  The more the President is being seen not to be working with the majority opposition on this project, the greater the political uncertainty.  The outcome? The current price tag of $167 billion can easily escalate to $200 billion (US$1 billion). Can we afford that?
The people cannot afford political grandstanding from the PPP on our energy security, since the outcome will just be more financial misery and greater poverty in our homeland. That is why it is imperative that in the nation’s best interest there should be tripartite leadership on the Amaila project and all other projects that will bring major advances to our homeland.

The Amaila Falls Hydro Project is a pre-requisite to accelerated economic development in Guyana.  Some may argue that Amaila is not the answer to Guyana‘s energy needs.  However, the empirical evidence and projections clearly prove otherwise – Amaila is critical for Guyana’s economic take-off and sustainable human development.

Today Guyana spends some $82 billion on fuel imports every year, with some $22 billion of this amount purchased exclusively for electricity generation using very antiquated, energy intensive processes.  The end result – financial and energy waste every single second in Guyana.  Thus no political force in their right mind will want to undermine Amaila; this project is good for Guyana.

The Ramotar administration must make it its business to care about designs, contractual obligations, timelines, and deliverables.  Contractors must be held accountable and responsible for the timely deliverables of what we the people are paying for; no more Skeldon Sugar Factory fiasco.  The only beneficiary politically from such initiatives will be the Ramotar administration.

After 20 years, these hydro-power assets will all belong to the people of Guyana and if one is to observe the Ilha Solteria Dam in Brazil, it still stands tall some 40 years after commissioning, producing some 17.9 billion KWh of electricity annually.

Amaila can also be standing tall 40 years from now, but we all have to be fiscally responsible and sensible to see this through to the end. As an immediate casualty, if Fip Motilal has to go, then let him go, but the road must be completed and fast, since it is way behind schedule.

Yours faithfully,
Sasenarine Singh

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