Contractor has already been paid $80m for collapsed Palmyra monument base

Dear Editor,

The commemoration of Arrival Day on May 5th 2018 has arrived again and the wrecked Monument Site at Palmyra is a stark reminder and symbolical of what Indians and Guyanese as a whole have been relegated to by this Coalition Government in just 3 years.

On March 15th, 2017 Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo and Indian High Commissioner to Guyana, Venkatachalam Mahalingam unveiled the site for the Indian Arrival monument at Palmyra Village. The structure to be built was supposed to display six bronze figures of three men, two women and a child illustrating Indians in their daily lives.

However, from the inception the construction of this monument was shrouded in secrecy, even the RDC was not given the bills of quantities or were informed about the name of the contractor so that the Region could be an oversight body during the construction. In addition it was long after the collapse that it was then revealed that Alternative Contracting Enterprises was given the contract even though he was not the lowest bidder. This also tells the twisted nature of the award itself.

It must also be recalled that the designers had warned the contractor that the base of the monument was built too high and that it could not accommodate the plans and designs and the placement of the figures among other things. Their warnings went unheeded.

After the collapse of the unfinished monument, an engineer confirmed that the contractor did substandard work. He said that, ‘They were backfilling the inside of the building but they did not tie the structure to avoid what happened. The concrete is still not yet fully cured and they should have used steel to tie the walls from the insides to keep the structure in place. The other option would have been to secure it from the outside.’

Even workers on site had complained that they were not being paid and that they hardly saw the Contractor. This alone would suggest negligence by the Contractor. It is alleged that some of these workers are still to be paid.

But what has become of this Contractor? Was he blacklisted?  Was he paid for the substandard work?

This Contractor continues to get contracts from  the Government and at the RDC Statutory meeting on Thursday, it was revealed by the Vice Chairman that the Contractor was already paid $80 million for the collapsed structure! The total contract sum was $97 million. It is an insult to one’s sensibilities that 82% of the contract sum would have been paid to this contractor when a casual inspection by any engineer would have unearthed the grossly substandard work that was being done! Who certified the work at various stages to facilitate payments to this contractor?

On this day there is need to do serious introspection as to whither are we going as a Nation when there no longer exists equal employment opportunities and corruption is engulfing every facet of our lives. Our leaders must respect our people and give some relevance and credence to our motto: One People, One Nation, One Destiny! Guyana belongs to all of us!

Yours faithfully,

Haseef Yusuf

RDC Councillor Region 6

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