The Agriculture Ministry has operationalised four new fixed pump stations over the last week, three of which were set up from the controversial 2011 Surendra Engineering contract.
According to the ministry, the new pump stations are located at Para-dise, East Coast Demerara, Region 4; Pine Ground, Mahaicony, Region 5; Canal Number 1, West Bank Demerara, Region 3; and Vrede-en-Vriendschap, Canje, Region 6.
While the ministry does not specifically state which of the three pumps were provided under the $820 million contract with Surendra, it did state that of the four pumps, the ones located Paradise, Vrede-en-Vriendschap, and Canal Number 1 each had a discharge capacity of 200 cubic feet per second. Agriculture Minister Dr Leslie Ramsammy had previously stated that all stationary pumps provided under the Surendra contact would have a 200 cubic feet per second capacity. The Pine Ground pump has a capacity of 120 cubic feet per second capacity.
Questions remain about the current contractual obligations of Surendra, which was to provide 14 pumps since 2011. It was only this year that pump stations were being commissioned. Adding to the controversy was a $265 million pump station that was commissioned at Patentia with a drainage capacity of 150 cubic feet per second and which was initially touted as one of projects that utilised the Surendra pumps. However, Ramsammy later told the Parliamentary Sectoral Committee on Natural Resources that it was in fact not a beneficiary of the deal.
The ministry yesterday in a press release said the new pump stations operationalised in the last week are new locations which now have permanent pumping capacity for the first time.
It stated that the additional 720 cubic feet per second capacity added by the four pumps mean that over 18 million gallons of water can be discharged within an hour.
However, it said the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA) wished to make clear that the additional pumping capacity cannot prevent increased flooding when there is intense rainfall but the addition of such stations will significantly increase its ability to effectively drain water in a more efficient and timely manner.
The release also mentioned three other pump stations that were operationalised earlier this year at Rose Hall Town, Three Friends and Number 19 Village. The release stated that the combined capacity of the four pumps that were operationalised earlier in the year—Rose Hall Town, Number 19, Patentia, and Three Friends—was 390 cubic feet per second. Rose Hall and Patentia were said to have individual capacities of 120 cubic feet per second and 150, respectively, in earlier reports.
Ramsammy made additional disclosures to the Natural Resources committee, including that there are no local manufacturers of the pumps and that local contractors who bid would procure pumps from the same Miami-based supplier that Surendra also utilises for parts.
Ramsammy said too that overall from 2012 to 2015 Guyana would be tapping 39 pumps and 14 of those would be supplied under the Surendra contract. The minister’s revelations did very little to ease the lack of clarity over just where the 14 pumps were going to be placed, the total cost and whether they have been completely outfitted by Surendra. Critics had said that Surendra should not have been awarded this contract as there were other bidders better equipped to execute this project.
Ramsammy had previously identified locations for the Surendra pumps, which overlapped with those under an $11 billion NDIA project for additional drainage structures, including rehabilitation and construction of pump stations and which had $1.9 billion left to be spent in 2014.