As the construction of stands at D’urban Park continues to face scrutiny, General Secretary of the General Contractors Association of Guyana Neil Rogers says an inspection of the work done revealed that it was very shabby.
Rogers told Stabroek News that he and the President of the association, “were there yesterday [Thursday], which was my second visit to the site, and the work I had seen was very bad.
“The work is shabby. The actual construction, the technical part of it, is shabby and terrible. I have seen wood jointed in couple of places that are load bearing and have bolts and that should not be,” he said, while stating that inferiority of the work goes beyond what has been highlighted in the media. “You don’t have a contractor’s eye, so you wouldn’t see things that I can see but there are a lot of things … that are actually wrong with it and I wouldn’t want my wife or child sitting on it next month,” he said, while adding that he intends to visit the site again and to contact those responsible for the development to highlight his findings.
The stands at D’urban Park are to be used for next month’s independence anniversary celebrations.
“There is quite a lot to be done with the corrections and from the work that is moving ahead but all of it needs proper oversight,” he said, while noting that he doesn’t think that the shabby work is a result of the works being rushed to meet the independence deadline. “You can rush the job and have three different shifts and work the stuff out but you have to know what you are doing and it’s not difficult, it’s simple,” he said, pointing out that he does not directly blame the persons who are in charge because they are often relayed information by persons on the site that may not be correct. “The work can continue but the supplier has to make sure that the best possible wood comes on site. And you can’t tell me that’s all we have. Not in Guyana; we have better quality and the contractors need to be properly guided with the works they are doing,” he added.
Rogers said one of the main concerns is the lumber that was supplied for the construction. “It is very terrible and I don’t know who was responsible for examining it because when you have that magnitude of wood on site, you can’t expect contractors and sub-contractors to go through to pick out which is good and which is not good. You need this wood that you can just pick up and put in the necessary place,” he said.
He said based on what he has heard about the wood that is being used, contractors usually experience a lot of issues. “I can only go with what I hear and apparently what I heard about this wood– Mora–is that it has problems, especially when it is wet and I understand that once it is wet it will always have problems, such as cracking here and there,” he said. He noted that the President of the Association had mentioned to him that the Mora wood was used for the railroad tracks in the past but it was better cured then. “…But now the wood that was sent here has sap and you can see it so it wasn’t cured properly and that’s another reason why you are experiencing problems with it,” he added.
“When you talk about D’urban Park and the kind of work that is going on there, we have a problem with the quality of wood that the supplier is bringing and it should stop immediately. They should get rid of the wood… it’s terrible and those wood should not be on the market and once you solve that then the contractors will have an easier way of getting things done,” he added.
With more than 40 years in general contracting, Rogers stated that the quality of materials that are being placed on the market is affecting Guyana on the whole and as a result the association is lobbying for the implementation of a system where suppliers can only put a certain standard of wood on the market. “That is the start of the problem and does not help the sub-contractors or contractor who don’t know construction. It gives them more problems and adds to the situation and this is one of the reasons why we think that contractors should have to take a licensed test every two years,” he said, while adding that the association is advocating the forming of an industrial construction institute that would monitor all contractors.
Stabroek News had highlighted the state of the stands over a week ago.
There were clear signs of inferior work as most of the supporting beams were seen with long, deep cracks running from top to the bottom. As a reporter ascended the stands, the boards trembled and shook as if they would easily break under pressure. Nails and screws were seen out of place and protruding through the side of some of the beams, while the seats were chipping.
Stabroek News subsequently contacted Minister within the Ministry of Education Nicolette Henry, who had stated that she was unaware of the concerns about the integrity of the stands. She then stated that the description of the stands being inferior was only a matter of opinion and that the National Commemoration Commission along with other line agencies had inspected the area on the day and she was waiting on a report.
This newspaper tried repeatedly to contact the minister during the past week for an update but was unsuccessful. It was then related to Stabroek News that Bobby Vieira was responsible for the stands although when this newspaper had contacted him previously he had stated that he was not responsible and declined to make a comment on the concerns about the state of the stands.
Stabroek News visited the site again last Thursday to see whether repair works were being done. However, Vieira drove up and proclaimed that reporters were not authorised to be on the site. When Stabroek News pointed out that the site was public, he said that it was still under construction and had not been handed over to the public and as a result no one was authorised to be on the site.
Stabroek News was also told on Thursday by a source close to the construction that the frailties of the construction were heavily because of the type of wood that was being used. The source related that because of the magnitude of the construction, it was impossible to procure better quality of wood and finish the construction in time for the celebrations. However, since the original report on the stands by this newspaper they have been fortified.