President David Granger yesterday expressed satisfaction with the progress of work at the D’urban Park Development Project where key aspects of the independence jubilee celebrations will be held.
A statement from the Ministry of the Presidency said that Granger toured the facility early in the morning, days after responsibility for the project was taken away from a public-private partnership over shoddy work and entrusted to the Ministry of Public Infrastructure (MPI).
The release noted that MPI is implementing a double-shift system to ensure that work is completed in time for the May 12 deadline which has been set for the completion of stands and other works. Granger emphasised that the safety of the Guyanese people is a top priority.
“Well the purpose of the visit is to find out exactly how much work has been achieved and how far it has gone. I am very satisfied. This is going to be the main area in the city of Georgetown for public events and as you know we have made a lot of headway during 2015 and the Ministry of Public Infrastructure is now continuing that work. We are looking at capacity to ensure that the maximum number of citizens, particularly from central Georgetown, could have access to this facility. We are looking at safety and we are also looking at the events, which could be viewed [here],” Granger said.
He assured that the facility will be brought to acceptable international standards and will be a venue Guyanese can be proud of.
Geoffrey Vaughn, Chief Works Officer of the Ministry of Public Infrastructure, said that he was pleased that the Ministry has been able to stick to the work despite inclement weather, the release reported.
“We are reinforcing the stands, as there were concerns of the strength. The VIP stand is moving ahead and we are still hoping to wrap up everything in the 21 days as stated. Everyone is working and we are working to meet May 12 deadline,” he said.
The release noted that Granger had mandated MPI to take over the project, which was initially advanced under a public-private partnership model, since it has the capacity, expertise and resources to ensure that it is ready for the celebrations.
Granger was accompanied by Minister within the Ministry of Public Infrastructure, Annette Ferguson; Chief of Staff of the Guyana Defence Force, Brigadier Mark Phillips; Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Public Infrastructure, Keith Jordan and other representatives and officials from the Guyana Defence Force, Guyana Police Force, Ministry of Public Infrastructure and the Ministry of the Presidency.
The president’s decision to entrust MPI with the project has raised questions about the group that was previously in charge of it and the decisions that it had made in relation to contractors and materials.
After weeks of embarrassing disclosures about the poor construction work on the stands that are to hold an estimated 19,000 spectators for the May 26 jubilee celebrations, Granger announced that MPI would take over responsibility for the project and this would see two shifts working.
Work on the D’urban park stands was previously under the control of Larry London though the government made no announcements of his role and who else had been working with him. At a press conference he called last Wednesday, Minister of Public Infrastructure, David Patterson was asked who was in charge of the construction prior to his Ministry taking the helm of the project and he said, “A team headed by London… The same team that would’ve been looking at public spaces before.” Patterson had then explained that the team is still involved and his Ministry taking over the project was merely a collaborative step. “They are still involved… It’s not a breakage of anything of that it’s just mobilization of additional resources,” he explained.
A visit by Stabroek News to the site had revealed that there were clear signs of inferior work as most of the support beams were seen with long, deep cracks running from top to the bottom.
Upon being climbed, the stands 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.
When Stabroek News had visited the site a second time to ensure that works were being done to correct the defects, Bobby Vieira who was part of the public-private arrangement 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. He then ordered Stabroek News from the site
Stabroek News subsequently learnt that Shung Global and H Nauth and Sons were among the private contractors involved. When Patterson was asked which contractors were responsible for the previous work he had confirmed that Shung Global and H Nauth and Sons had been working along with the construction firm Ambrose.
Quality of wood
A source close to the construction had related that one of the reasons for the stands having a lot of defects was because of the type and quality of wood. The source related that the wood was not of the best quality but it was all they could’ve found given the amount of time they were given to build the stands. Why this poor quality wood was even used by the contractors remains an unanswered question.
The General Contractors Association of Guyana (GCAG), after an inspection of the site, had dubbed the works as shabby and General Secretary of the Association Neil Rogers had highlighted and reinforced that one of the reasons for the inferior works was because of the quality of the materials.
When Patterson was asked last week Wednesday where the materials came from and at what cost, he had related that it was donated from sawmills. “From what I understand the materials have been donated from sawmills and those things like that but I want to make a clear distinction that the inventory that we are collecting we will inspect them,” Patterson explained, stating that the regulations would be respected and that everything would be subjected to audits and scrutiny.
While the type of wood did not make the job easier for the contractors, Rogers had explained that it was also the workmanship that played a major role in the subpar construction.
Since MPI took over the works it had decided to double the workforce and introduce a double shift system, while bringing on more contractors. When Patterson was asked who the additional contractors were and how they were procured he had explained that they were selected from a list of prequalified contractors. “… [The] contractors haven’t been decided. We have, as you know that we prequalified contractors at the beginning of the year and procurement cycle, previous to this and unrelated to the D’urban Park development, so we would’ve had a list of prequalified selected contractors and we would’ve selected 13 or 15,” he had stated, explaining that out of the 15 they only needed about 7.
“…Obviously they have to show the capacity that they can do it, the manpower issue and have some sort of financial capabilities”, he added.
Meanwhile, the three contractors who had worked earlier on the project will continue working on it.