The protracted expansion of the Brickdam Police Station lockup should be done by year-end, according to Minister of Public Security Khemraj Ramjattan.
Ramjattan last Thursday told Sunday Stabroek that his ministry has invited bids from qualified persons to execute a $16.4 million capital project that will focus on fixing the ventilation system and the washroom facilities at the lockup, which has been undergoing rehabilitation over the past four years.
An advertisement was published in the Wednesday edition of the state-owned Guyana Chronicle inviting persons to bid. The ad stated that the bidding will be conducted through the National Competitive Bidding (NCB) Procedures specified in the Procurement Act and is open to all bidders subject to provisions of Section 111 (Eligible Countries) of the Bid Document.
At an AFC press conference last Thursday, Ramjattan indicated that besides problems with the ventilation system, there were also issues with the design of the facility.
He told reporters that during a visit several weeks ago a parliamentary select committee had seen the problems firsthand. He expressed certainty that once works are completed, the lockup will be in a “far better state” as it would be a modern facility.
Over the years, there have been reports of inhumane conditions at the lockup. The former PPP/C administration had allocated millions of dollars to rehabilitate the facility.
In May, 2013, the then Ministry of Home Affairs—now renamed the Ministry of Public Security—invited bids for the construction of the upper flat of the lock-up, which was estimated to cost $53,781,901. It is unclear who won the bid and how much money has been spent. However, earlier this year, the National Assembly approved an additional $20 million for the expansion project.
In October last year, following a complaint made by acting police commissioner David Ramnarine, Ramjattan had explained that there were flaws in the design for the lockups, which would have rendered it airless. As a result, he said, government had to set aside money to rectify that problem.
Ramnarine had said that the expansion was “dragging on for too long” and that the situation was taxing the force’s scarce resources to shuttle detainees, including high-profile suspects, to other facilities on a daily basis.
Meanwhile, Ramjattan also said last Thursday that the ministry has started the process to have the 911 system up and running once again.
Last December, during the consideration of the budget estimates, he had expressed confidence that this would be done by the end of January this year. However, he said on Thursday that rooms have been prepared and that training has commenced. He said that Digicel has already procured the equipment and Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company (GTT) is installing a fibre optic cable.
In March this year, Minister of State Joseph Harmon announced that Cabinet had given its no objection to the award of a $27.9 million contract to Digicel for the provision of a 911 business solution emergency service system for the Ministry of Public Security.
Months earlier, the Private Sector Commission (PSC) and Ramnarine had expressed concern over the quality of the 911 service being provided by GTT.