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Haags Bosch overseers refuse blame for ailing project, government says hands are tied

Last Updated on Friday, 3 July 2015, 21:26 by GxMedia

From left: Geotechnical Engineer Charles Ceres, Permanent Secretary Emile Mc Garrel Emile McGarrel, Director of Georgetown Solid Waste Management Programme, Gordon Gilkes and other staff members of the Ministry of Communities.

by Zena Henry

The new government is in no way taking blame for the failure of hired contractors to fully implement and manage waste at the Haags Bosch Landfill site based on design and technical specifications.

BK International and Puran’s Brothers Disposal , in a joint venture related to this project, and the government are locked in a heated court battle over payment failures, implementation failures and compliance.

That, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Communities, Emile McGarrel told reporters Friday June 3, has left the government’s hands tied. As result of the ongoing court matter, when it comes to fixing the problems at the site, the PS said that, “there is nothing the government of Guyana could do outside of violating the court order and that is not going to happen.”

The Inter-American Development Bank had signed a more than $18M loan agreement with Guyana for Haags Bosch, but failure to install all the arms of the project saw the bank threatening and subsequently ceasing funding. Both the government and the joint venture, have blamed each other for the failure of the full implementation of the project.

Director of Georgetown Solid Waste Management Programme, Gordon Gilkes had cause to defend himself when it was asked why the government, particularly the previous administration, under whom he worked, allowed the situation to deteriorate so gravely.

Gilkes said that he is satisfied that he would have done his job. “My supervision of the activities at the landfill, I believe we have done our jobs according to the contract and we have been informing the contractor over a period of time of his non-compliances, of his slippages on work schedule, of the need to push the work to have the landfill completed.” The Director said he could not be blamed for the current situation since he was not the operator at the landfill site.

Adviser to the Communities Ministry, a Geotechnical Engineer Charles Ceres agreed that the overseer could be blamed for deficiencies. He said the project falls under the Municipal Solid Waste Management programme which includes the Haags Bosch Landfill Site. “Mr. Gilkes has responsibility for the entire project.” He said there were consultants who identified significant deficiencies at the landfill site and so it must recognized, the objectives of all parties.

The Communities Ministry provided a list of matters to be addressed at the landfill site including the compacting of waste, construction of cells, leaching systems, composting facility, and the  payment system.

BKI had claimed however that the landfill continues to operate above capacity- 18,000 tons of waste monthly, while only 6,000 tons were predicted for processing monthly.

Ceres said the payment was pegged at 80,000 tons per year  as a criterion, and even if the amount was less the contractor had to be paid for the maximum agreed amount.

He said it was never intended that the landfill would be designed for a specific volume on a yearly basis, but to provide for a certain space based on a certain compaction level.  He explained that if compaction levels were not retained, the landfill’s content would appear much more than had been predicted. “The landfill now is where it should be eight years in existence because we are not seeing that level of compaction.” Ceres suggested that the life of the landfill site is based on the management of waste compaction.