A wise man once told me “in the absence of credible information, there will be misinformation”. Allow me to provide clarity on the issues cited in letter titled `Appalling conditions at UG’s Turkeyen Campus’ published in the May 14th edition of the Kaieteur News.
The Cheddi Berret Jagan Lecture Theatre or CBJLT as it is commonly called, was recently renovated compliments of funding emanating from the Yesu Persaud Foundation in conjunction with the Faculty of Social Sciences, to the tune of $16,136,890. This building in its current construct, comprises five lecture halls of which two are used exclusively to facilitate two Commonwealth Masters Programmes in public and business administration respectively and in total, comfortably accommodates in excess of three hundred students at any one sitting.
Therefore, in light of the foregoing, please note the following:
1. Back-up Power- this matter was addressed in scope of works issued contractually, as a critical component of the existing infrastructure was defective. Efforts made by the contractor to source this critical piece of equipment proved futile, as the then proposed available options were rejected on the basis of quality. Even further, while renovation works were being executed on this building, several other improvement projects were simultaneously being effected around the Turkeyen campus. Noteworthy and relevant at that time, was the road resurfacing and new parking lot project, mainly because during the parking lot construction aspect, excavation works would have damaged a subsurface feeder line, responsible for providing back-up power to the CBJLT, thus changing the scope of works required. Efforts have since been made to have these works done via a new concise contractual arrangement, which involves the public tender process due to estimated execution costs and this is expected to be completed shortly.
2. Running Water- to say that there has been no running water on campus in any washroom area for periods spanning weeks at a time, is a very irresponsible and reckless statement to make. Imagine a situation where a public washroom facility is without water for weeks and is still being utilised by any number of persons. Even further, imagine such a situation in close proximity to a crowd gathering of any form or in this case a classroom setting.
Recently, Turkeyen campus was battling an issue of low/no water pressure resulting from our sole feeder line to well connection being damaged as a result of excavation works done in the area. This issue has since been resolved. However, during this period alternative arrangements were made to ensure the impact of this situation on students and staff alike was either not felt or significantly reduced. These arrangements included the bulk purchase of water from third party suppliers, which was then distributed to areas across campus where tanks and other such storage units were present (95% of the campus) or the filling of drums and placing them in areas where tanks were not present (5% of the campus), for the purposes of hand washing and flushing toilets. Additionally, in some cases staff from the maintenance division were deployed periodically to assist with the flushing of toilets, just to bring an ease to a situation that was beyond our control as an institution.
3. Washroom Closure- It is in fact true that one washroom on the ground floor was closed out.
However, what was not mentioned, was the fact that a new larger facility was constructed on that same ground floor as part of the renovation scope and not only did it include a single washroom
closet like the original, but two additional urinals were installed, as this was the male washroom which was affected. Even further, it should be noted that the original washroom closet was closed out and repurposed as an electrical panel room due to a need for space to safely house additional electrical panels, consequent to electrical upgrading done as part of renovation works completed.
Campus wide improvements from 2016 to present have been steady and totals in excess of half a billion dollars or more specifically $556,845,787 and US$822,000 as of March 2019. These monies were spent to improve facilities for both student and staff experiences and have ranged from the erection of completely new buildings to the installation and commissioning of brand new generator sets for the purpose of back-up power, and were all made possible compliments of the Guyana government, private sector, donor agencies and University of Guyana funding. One can choose to view the glass from two commonly known perspectives, however, for one to choose to ignore the glass even exists while we drink of its content is to be dishonest with one’s self.
Finally, a special invitation is extended to those reading this letter to come visit the Turkeyen campus (if you have not done so already) and judge for yourselves the realities that exist.
Mr Bjorn Williams
Director, Estates Management University of