Members of the General Contractors Association of Guyana (GCAG) are fuming over the disclosure by the Ministry of Communities earlier this week that it was engaging a Chinese company to construct low and middle-income homes, complete with water and sanitation systems.
On Tuesday, a day after reports that Minister within the Ministry of Communities Valerie Patterson had gone to Suriname with a technical team and met representatives of the Chinese company, 14 local contractors visited the Stabroek Business to voice their “considerable disquiet.”
GCAG Secretary Neil Cort-Rogers said, “We’re shocked. At this stage it is not a question of who gets the contract but the fact that even as far as consultations were concerned we were entirely overlooked.”
Other members of the GCAG delegation endorsed the view expressed by Cort-Rogers that the GCAG ought to have been engaged for discussions once it had been decided that there were houses to be built.
GCAG President Aubrey Jones said the association was upset that it was overlooked for consultations, “despite the fact that the authorities are aware of our existence.” Stabroek Business understands that representatives of the GCAG have met both Patterson and Chairman of the Central Housing and Planning Authority (CHPA) Hamilton Green.
Jones said the engagement between the CHPA and the Suriname-based Chinese firm was all the more surprising because “as far as I am aware we have never engaged a foreign firm to construct homes for Guyanese. I would say that an explanation from the minister would be in order,” Jones added.
Earlier this week Stabroek Business read a letter from the GCAG to Patterson, which was copied to President David Granger, Communities Minister Ronald Bulkan and Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson. The letter asserts that “what would appear to be the assignation of a sizeable housing construction project to a foreign firm is taking place even as several of our members as well as large numbers of other tradesmen in various sub-sectors of the construction sector remain without jobs.”
GCAG, according to the letter to the minister, finds “acutely disturbing, the fact the authorities have declined to consult with it in the matter of the housing project “despite official awareness of our Association.”
GCAG, the letter continues, is seeking audience with the minister “no later than Friday July 8 to discuss the matter.” Further, the letter requests that the CHPA “give consideration to suspending such discourses as might be ensuing with Zhong Da International Engineering Company in the matter of the local housing project.”