Implementation of public infrastructure projects hits stumbling blocks

Last Updated on Thursday, 15 September 2016, 13:57 by Denis Chabrol

Slow implementation of multi-million dollar projects is dogging the Ministry of Public Infrastructure, partly because contractors are overburdened with projects and the unavailability of the required number of engineers.

Public Infrastructure Minister, David Patterson said that up to August 31, 2016 GYD$11 billion of the GYD$24.28 billion set aside for capital works of the Public Sector Investment Programme were spent. He said only about five percent of GYD$2 billion worth of projects being funded by the European Union and the Inter American Development Bank has been spent. In all, about GYD$5 billion worth of foreign-funded projects are facing some setbacks. The East Coast Demerara Highway, being funded by the China EXIM Bank, has not started yet.

With the Ministry of Public Infrastructure offering graduate engineers a monthly salary of GYD$80,000, Patterson said only one has been hired for Region 8 (Potaro- Siparuni) since advertising twice. “That obviously impacts on our delivery schedule because obviously each project that you do  in the Ministry, you would have to assign an engineer to it,” he said. The Minister said that the several engineers located in Georgetown could only visit interior areas periodically and the feedback is “not good enough.”

Several contracts have been awarded since June and contractors have since received mobilization funds but they are not present at work sites, in contrast to their claims that they are not getting work. He said many of them eventually say that they do not have sufficient equipment to execute more than one projects at the same time. “When we check they have more than one contract but hey have a limited source of equipment and they are spread thinly,” the Public Infrastructure Minister told a news conference. Patterson plans to meet the private sector and contractors to discuss his concerns.

Other constraints include the weather and terrain.

The Minister said the Materials Laboratory would be upgraded to ensure that the right quality of materials is used.