Authorities on Friday continued to address lingering concerns about stone shortage for the local construction sector during a meeting with quarry operators.
The meeting with officials of the Natural Resources Ministry and the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) came several months after a public spat between the Public Works Ministry and BK International over the availability of stone. Despite assurances, government had threatened to import cheaper stone to address the growing demand for major infrastructure projects.
Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment Robert Persaud on Friday met with local quarry producers at the ministry to hear of some of the constraints affecting their production, so as to very early, assist in alleviating them, and thereby ensuring that the operators’ ability to supply products to Government projects in 2014 is not affected.
Minister Persaud noted that there has been some level of concern about the ability of the local quarry operators to satisfy demand in the construction sector. He explained that several Government projects during the course of 2013 were affected by the inadequate availability, not production, of quarry material. Government roll-over projects from 2013, amounted to billions, he said, with the Ministry of Housing accounting for over $3B.
“So I wanted to flag very early the problems, so that the Cabinet could assure the related sectors that operators are focused in terms of having the production,” Minister Persaud explained.
He noted that Government’s aim is to ensure maximum output from the operators. “You are running a business, so we cannot tell you how it is you should design your business model, it is just to say that we expect maximum output and the utilisation of the resources that were made available to you,” he said.
“These resources belong to the people of Guyana. You have been entrusted to develop and utilise it, and make it available. If you cannot, then we have to seek other options,” he pointed out.
During the discussions, representatives, including from Toolise Persaud, Baracara, BK International, Metallica and Durban Quarries pinpointed transportation as one of the major issues affecting their ability get the stone to the markets.
A representative from Toolise Persaud noted that the company is expected to see an increase of 30 percent in 2014 and this production, like 2013 will far exceed the company’s transportation ability. He said in a move to bring more stone to the market, the company is now opening up, to allow persons who have barges, to uplift the aggregate at their quarry.
There was also a call for the various ministries to supply the operators with projections of their cut stone and sea defence requirements so that they could plan their production. Minister Persaud committed to formally writing to the ministries to get the different type of aggregate and to supply the operators with such in two weeks.
BK International meanwhile has some difficulties in navigating the river due to its shallowness, and the company is paying heavily in terms of damage experienced to the barge. They are asking for assistance, in either having some level of dredging done or that the Maritime Administration put in buoys and navigation lights.
Durban quarry is just over two years old and has been operating ex-quarry, but has been able to acquire a barge to assist in delivering their product to local market. They now require assistance in having a location for offloading in Georgetown and have identified a location in Mudlot, Kingston, aback the Guyana Forestry Commission.
They sought the Minister’s assistance in acquiring permission to use the facility. Minister Persaud committed to identifying another suitable location in case that particular site not available.
Metallica Quarries spoke of transportation logistics associated with their use of the Mabura road to get their stone from Omai to Linden. According to that company’s representative, due to the state of the road, a voyage time from Omai to Linden of three hours has now become extended, and the company experiences tremendous under carriage issues.
The company is willing to play a role in the maintenance and Minister Persaud committed to seeking advice to see whether this can be facilitated.
Minister Persaud will continue discussions with the suppliers of construction materials tomorrow with a meeting with sand/loam pit operators and other relevant stakeholders at the Conference Room, Splashmins Fun Park & Resort, Soesdyke/Linden Highway.
The meeting which will centre on discussions pertaining to the future of sand/loam mining in Guyana as a result of the Ministry recognising the increased demand for the product as part of the government’s increased infrastructural programme across the country.