PPP/C IS MISMANAGING PUBLIC INFRASTRUCTURE AND IMPEDING DEVELOPMENT
Deteriorating public infrastructure is impeding national development.Rickety stellings; city streets; failing ferries; deteriorating hinterland airstrips; broken bridges; impassable roadways and weakened kokers and sea defences have all become impediments to everyday commuting, communication and commerce.congested
The People’s Progressive Party/Civic administration, however, has no comprehensive plan to invest in
Air transport: A notorious example of misplaced priority and poor planning has been the bizarre construction of the $54.4 million airstrip on Wakenaam Island. Island residents, years after its completion, are still bewildered at being given an unwanted airstrip. Yet, forty-four more frequently used airstrips in the hinterland receive only marginal maintenance, a contributory factor to aviation accidents., improve or increase public infrastructure assets. The administration, however, pursues costly white elephant structures or politically glamorous projects – such as the so-called five-star hotel– rather than pursuing practical projects to develop essential infrastructure which could make life easier for the general population. Several areas of infrastructure development need urgent improvement.
- Road transport: Traversing some roads is agonizing. Residents of Ituni and bus drivers on the Linden-Kwakwani route; residents of East Bank Berbice; residents of Sophia and bus drivers in Bartica have all blocked thoroughfares at different times to call attention to the poor quality of their roads. The condition of bridges is dangerous. The collapse of sections of the Demerara Harbour Bridge in July 2012 halted traffic; the collapse of the Moco-Moco Bridge temporarily stopped travel in the Rupununi; the Kumaka-San Jose Bridge had become a nightmare for Moruca residents.
- River transport: The aging fleet of ferries is another maritime nightmare. Vessels have to be docked at a cost of several hundred millions and have become increasingly uneconomical to maintain. The Bartica, New Amsterdam, Parika, Rosignol, Stabroek, Vreed-en-hoop and Wakenaam stellings all need rehabilitation. The Wakenaam stelling may cost millions to repair in the wake of an incident in which the ferry slammed into it. A section of the new Supenaam stelling – completed at a cost of $431 million plus $100 million in additional remedial works – collapsed. A lorry ran off the MV Makouria ferry and sank in the Essequibo River in September 2013. Members of the Parika Speed Boat Owners Association protested to demand safer facilities for the increasing daily riverine traffic.
- Sea defence: Guyana’s 430 kilometre-long, low-lying coastline – most particularly between the Pomeroon River in the Pomeroon-Supenaam Region (No.2) and Crabwood Creek in the East Berbice-Corentyne Region (No.6) – needs continuous protection from the Atlantic Ocean. The Ministry of Public Works cannot competently cope with the challenge of maintaining the natural and man-made sea defence systems. Breaches and overtopping have recurred in the Demerara-Mahaica (No. 4) and Mahaica-Berbice (No.5) Regions.
- Information technology: The Office of the President’s E-Government Project Unit was unprepared to adequately supervise the installation of the 560-kilometre, US$32M fibre-optic cable from Lethem to Georgetown. The Public Works Ministry eventually had to be tasked with correcting poor work from Kurupkari to Mabura by one of the project’s contractors.
Guyana needs a plan to coordinate the efforts and consolidate the resources of various state agencies which seem to be involved in public infrastructure works. The Ministry of Public Works is charged with general responsibility for infrastructure. The Ministry of Housing and Water, the Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development, the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment and the Office of the President have also become involved in attempting to administer various infrastructural projects.
APNU calls on the PPP/C to formulate a coherent policy and promulgate a comprehensive infrastructural plan in order to avert confusion in the delivery of services and to avoid wasteful expenditure of state funds.