It is both disturbing and disappointing to read that the fibre-optic cable component of the E-Government Project has been suspended since November 2013 due to faulty installation that now requires remedial work (GT, December 12). Why only now are we made aware of this? And who would be held accountable for the flop?
This revelation by the Project Manager, Mr Alexei Ramotar, also comes as a huge surprise to those keenly following the progress of the project.
In January 2014, Mr Ramotar gave the assurance that the project was experiencing minor challenges and that “we have pushed it back, the handing over to August 2014. However, we expect all the parts to be finished by April 2014, we are on track for that and the April to August period is where we will be doing a lot of testing, and optimisation of the network and so forth. These are very standard things that happen in telecoms” (GT, January 20, 2014). Correspondingly, Prime Minister Samuel Hinds gave the reassurance in February of this year that the “E-Government Project unit aimed for an April 2014 completion date. However, this has been extended for August 2014,” and “additional delays stemmed from difficulty of procuring piles, adverse weather conditions, and the provision of electrical access to the sites. By no stretch of the imagination can these delays be considered extensive” (GT, February 12, 2014).
Now we are being told that the complications surrounding the project aren’t so subtle.
That aside, this represents a severe blow to our private sector and Guyana’s global competitiveness profile. Projects and initiatives like these should ideally be left to the private sector to undertake. Digicel has for years expressed an interest in a fibre optic cable and it was only in October this year that the company was informed that its application for a submarine cable was approved.
Government should only intervene if a gap or vacuum exists. And if the government does commit to such projects, hire professionals with the requisite competence and experience to successfully execute the job.