$780 million restoration of City Hall begins

Last Updated on Saturday, 25 September 2021, 8:27 by Denis Chabrol

The Guyana government is investing GYD$780 million into the restoration of City Hall which has fallen into serious disrepair over the years, Minister of Local Government Nigel Dharamlall.

He told Demerara Waves Online News/ News-Talk Radio Guyana 103.1 FM that the restoration work is being fully-funded by Central Government, with the first tranche of GYD$100 million already allocated in the 2021 National Budget.

“It is a roll-over project,” he said, explaining that more funds would be allocated leading up to the completion.

Restoration of the wooden edifice, which has been literally crumbling, is expected to be completed in 18 months– March, 2023.

The project was signed and awarded to Fidis Guyana Incorporated on Friday at ceremony that was held on the forecourt of the City Hall compound.

Chargé d’ Affaires of the Delegation of the European Union in Guyana,  Evelina Melbarzde said the EU is proud to be a part of the restoration and preservation of the building. “The contribution the European Union made at that time was significant, it was around US $325,000…that was our aim at supporting Guyanese authorities to preserve this fantastic, amazing, pearl of heritage. So once again I would like to congratulate Guyanese authorities and wish them all the luck,” she said.

The EU had funded a study by EURO-NET Consulting in 2018 that had estimated restoration works to cost about GYD$1 billion.

Minister Dharamlall said the restoration of the building is part of a greater development plan for the country. He urged the contractor to work within the given timeframe.

“The restoration of City Hall should not be seen as something by itself, but is part of the greater whole, in terms of how we are pursuing development in the country… It is quite an extensive and expansive exercise that His Excellency is pursuing and we hope that it will rebound to the benefit of the citizens of Georgetown,” he was quoted by government’s Department of Public Information as saying.

Minister Dharamlall said the government is ensuring that investments are made for the greater development of Georgetown and the country at large. He said the transformation will make Guyana a “number one destination.”

Minister within the Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development, Anand Persaud noted that the government’s initiative to restore City Hall will boost the tourism sector.

“This structure is on the world heritage tentative list, part of the proposed structure and historic buildings site in Georgetown…even in its disrepair state, remains a major architectural marvel and a tourism attraction. By embarking on this initiative to restore city hall to its former glory, will promote and preserve our cultural heritage and continue to boost our tourism industry,” the minister said.

Meanwhile, Mayor of Georgetown, His Worship, Pandit Ubraj Narine, said he is happy to see the restoration project underway, as City Hall has been in a deplorable state for a long time.

“I must compliment the Government of Guyana on this move. City Hall building has been in this state for many decades, and I’m happy to see that the minister has taken this venture to a different level where we can be able to work for the benefit of our people of the city,” Mayor Narine said.

The restoration project is a collaboration between the Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development, the European Union and the Mayor and City Council. This project will see the use of Guyana’s own resources, including wood and local labour, DPI reported.