Investor urges zero tolerance for subpar building materials in gov’t projects

-at launch of state-of-the-art concrete products factory

In keeping with its vision to modernise Guyana’s infrastructure, KSM Investments Inc. last evening launched its state-of-the-art concrete products factory, cement warehouse and interactive product display facility and Managing Director Mahadeo Panchu challenged the government to not accept the use of poor quality building materials in taxpayer-funded projects.

According to Panchu, the facility, located at the Lot 8 Good Hope, East Coast Demerara, is the first of its kind, not only in Guyana but in the Caribbean region. He told those in attendance at the launch that the factory’s fully-automated technology combines Chinese and German engineering, essentially meeting all European-quality standards in its design and manufacture.

Minister of Business Dominic Gaskin (second from right), Managing Director of KSM Investments, Mahadeo Panchu (far right), his wife Shanti and son Arvind open the new cement products factory at Good Hope. (Photo by Keno George)

Once an investor in the local rice industry, Panchu said it was after much thought and consideration of the country’s construction industry and what he described as a generalised propensity of persons to accept substandard work that he, with the financial support and advice from Scotiabank, decided to venture into new territory.

“Over the years, Guyanese have grown accustomed to using extremely poor quality handmade blocks and low quality machine made blocks in the construction of buildings… this very low bar, which has been set by the construction sector, has terribly damaged the sector and restricted its growth and modernisation,” Panchu said.  It was against this backdrop that Panchu said he and his family saw tremendous potential in the sector, and, therefore, they took it upon themselves to make that step forward in its modernisation.

“We saw the tremendous potential for us in this sector and took it upon ourselves as patriotic Guyanese to look past the fast dollar and play a more fundamental role in the development of this beautiful country… our company KSM Inc. is a locally incorporated and completely Guyanese-owned company; our factory was built from the ground up by Guyanese and its construction provided employment for many individual workers and businesses,” he added.

He, however, lamented that although his products have already been used by countless Guyanese since production began last November, contracts awarded by the government continue to be carried out using poor quality building materials.

Thus, Panchu called on the government to move away from the mediocrity and instead demand value-for-money on a playing field that is even. “The days of squandering taxpayers’ money on low-quality construction must be numbered; we must start the modernisation of our beautiful Guyana through the construction of streets, parks, [and] compounds made with our world-class everlasting pavers which were recently used in the parking lot of State House,” he argued.

“We are ready to create new dynamics with our products for all government projects but the political will must be seen and felt.

“Honourable Minister, we know sometimes the wheels of government turn slowly and sometimes it is necessary for it to do so, but I trust after you have completed your tour today, your favourable report will act as lubrication for the wheels of government, making it move a little faster and causing them to turn in the direction of quality concrete product being produced right here in Guyana at KSM Investments Inc,” Panchu added.

Meanwhile, the opening of the new facility was lauded by Minister of Business Dominic Gaskin, who, in delivering the feature address, described the facility as an asset to Guyana.

“I was impressed last year when I saw KSM’s products at GuyExpo and was even more impressed when I toured the facility…. Although we import everything under the sun, I know deep down we don’t want to and so we need to start producing more of the products we use and the construction industry is one such sector,” Gaskin said.

With regard to Panchu’s concerns, the minister reaffirmed his government’s commitment to supporting local industries.

“I understand your concerns but as you said the wheels of the government do turn slowly sometimes, but what I will say to you is that our government is as concerned about supporting local industries as you are…we have been looking at the public procurement system and we can also say that for local manufacturers, the wheels are turning in your favor,” the minister said.

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