In preparation for its hosting of the recent Mashramani activities, almost $6 million was spent to do repairs on the D’Urban Park facility, which includes its VIP Stand.
During the preparation for the annual flag raising ceremony and the February 23rd Mashramani costume and float parade, this newspaper had reported ongoing maintenance works at the facility.
The floor of the VIP section was replaced, while other works were carried out on the tarmac and the stands.
Initially, when officials present at the site were questioned, it was related that the works were part of the annual maintenance of the site.
However, D’Urban Park is under the purview of the Ministry of Social Cohesion and a source from the ministry related that Minister of Social Cohesion Dr George Norton was not pleased with its state and subsequently requested that the Ministry of Public Infrastructure (MPI) do immediate works ahead of the Mashramani observances.
MPI’s Public Relations Officer Desilon Daniels confirmed that the ministry’s Special Projects Unit executed works in the run up to Mashramani, including at D’Urban Park, where the tarmac was rolled, and the clearing of the plot of land behind the park.
Daniels also said structural works were also done to the structures within the park and this did not incur a cost of more than $6 million.
The source from the Social Cohesion Ministry also related that the Ministry of Natural Resources would have contributed but could not say how.
Controversy surrounded the construction of the Park after it was revealed early in 2016 that most of the stands had significant defects.
After weeks of embarrassing disclosures about the poor construction work on the stands, President David Granger announced that the MPI would take over responsibility for the completion of the first phase of the project ahead of the facility’s hosting of observances for Guyana’s 50th independence anniversary.
An audit subsequently found that the Park cost some $1.37 billion.
Despite its enormous price tag, the facilities are grossly underutilised, apart from being used by some for recreational activities in the afternoons and by vagrants for shelter.