BOAT builders are a dying breed in Guyana, but Peter Mendonca, the Bissoon brothers, Sona, Mohan and Narine and their Father Chaitram say that they intend to make the trade their career.
Peter said that at present boat building is very hard work for them as they have no electrical tools to make the labour easy. “The process is also very time consuming, he noted, “but in the long run all the energy used pays off because the profits are satisfying.”
The group originally started building in the North West in 1986 but after the demand increased in Georgetown and the men were awarded a contract they moved to Georgetown and started working at the South Ruimveldt Koker (just in front of CAR1 BANKS) where they are still situated.
Peter said that a 24- foot boat would take them about 18 days to build, but this number of days could be decreased if they had electrical tools. He noted that each boat could hold some 3,000 lbs and over 30 persons safely.
Mohan Bissoon explained that the boats are made from the Mora, Silver Bali and Green Heart types of timber. He disclosed that they get orders mainly from miners and not from fishermen as was expected.
He said that the timber is bought from lumber yards and occasionally they encounter some problems with the quality. “Our major setback is nails. We have to use only galvanised nails because these do not rust. But these are hardly ever available and when they are the price is out of the small man’s reach,” the builder declared. They also use corking cotton and putty to stop leaks, and coats of oil paint to preserve the wood.
Sona noted that the timber has to be planed into the desired shape and size of the boat and it is also made in such a way so that an engine can be attached. “Usually the outside of a boat rots first and leaves the frame so we place special emphasis on strengthening out boats on the outside,” he explained.
The business is good, the men say and fed this country lacks their kind of skills. There is a very demanding market in existence and they aim to fill it. The group says it also builds house and makes furniture.
No Christmas cheer from GEC
IT SEEMS Guyanese will have to endure what the Guyana Electricity Corporation says are “normal six hour blackouts” through the Christmas season, but government officials say efforts are being made to secure a power barge to link up with the system.
“A proposal to this effect is being considered,” one official said yesterday, adding that “the deal with a US firm has not yet been finalised.”
‘The Public Utilities Ministry is the one to say something on that. I cannot say that it will arrive for Christmas, but I am aware that the proposal is being considered,” one official told Stabroek News yesterday.
He could not say what would be the generating capacity of the barge if acquired, but sources close to project say the extremely high costs of the equipment is causing some problems.
News about the barge has come amidst the continuing spate of blackouts which are affecting industry, social events and life in general here.
GEC sources say that the Number Two Boiler damaged a few months ago might not be rehabilitated before year end as work is continuing on several crucial components of the equipment.
“Barring any major problems, we will only give consumers the six-hour blackouts they are enduring basically now. We are hopeful that it would be finished by year end.”
The sources admit that the memories of last year’s embarrassing blackout on Christmas Eve still linger in the mind of corporation engineers and officials are hoping that there will be no total shutdown of the system during the season.
The Catholic Standard reported at weekend that the barge will be acquired from a firm in Houston Texas, but the source said government is reluctant to make an announcement now because “it is still too early.”
IF THE time, energies and resources used to promote mass games had been used over the ten years towards improving the basic education of school children, we would have had a much better system of education.
The collapse of our education system is in part due to the unreasonable imposition of mass games which not only affects the students taking part, but the entire classes from which the students are selected. Never mind the talk about extra lessons to ‘catch up’; this is a myth as my own children have complained over and over.
What’s the use of trumpeting about the aesthetic and other questionable benefits of mass games when music, art and drama have a long time ago been dropped from the schools’ curricula, except of course at the President’s College.
The question is not whether some or the majority of students ‘like’ mass games; It is a question of getting our priorities right; i.e. the need to provide a sound education.
I have four children who have never been happy with the time wasting, propaganda filled mass games, and they all complained at the pressures which were used to get them to participate, including deduction of marks etc.
I agree with Mr. Ian Me Donald that the games should be scrapped.
OVER the past three months the news media nave been reporting on a government plan to acquire an Electricity Power Barge. The media have speculated on the design and capacity of the power source, but have not mentioned the size of the barge.
Will the dimensions be such as to allow access to G.N.E.C. Drydock for underwater Inspection and maintenance overhaul?
If the Barge cannot enter G.N.E.C. Drydock, do any of the state-owned coastal ships or tugboats have the power to engage in towing the Barge to Trinidad, Martinique, or Curacao?
Would the Barge be allowed to remain afloat until barnacles and corrosion feed on the plating as happened with the Harbour Bridge pontoons, then sink in agony with millions of dollars worth of equipment on board?
Would the Barge be subjected to a hasty beaching on Best Flats on the West Bank of the Georgetown Harbour leaving the City and environs engulfed in darkness until a hole in the bottom is soldered?”