Tony Vieira's Comments
22 October 2017

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Roads and Infrastructure
(Aired 27 November 2011)

    Over the past 5 years Guysuco embarked on a disastrous project at Skeldon which will cost this nation more than 200 million US dollars. To put this amount in perspective the annual budget of this country is around 800 million US dollars. This means GUYSUCO has spent 25% of what this country's  total annual budget is on a white elephant which could very well bankrupt the entire industry since important factory  maintenance is not being done at the other GuySuCo factories because money is badly needed to finance this disaster. I saw the AFC in the Kaiteur News of 28th August identifying the problem, but the young AFC economists, do not appreciate how difficult it is to convert the existing cambered beds in the industry to flat land for mechanical harvesting, made even more difficult in a country with as high a rainfall as oursI it was this very problem which we who have worked in the cane fields of Guyana understand i.e. that to convert the existing acreage of Skeldon, around 12,000 acres, to flatland was a tall and probably not attainable target, and to extend the Skeldon cultivation by another 12,000 acres was going to take at least a decade and was probably not achievable even then. But to expect that farmers would be able to finance the planting for mechanical harvesting of an additional 12,000 acres was impossible. We never expected that this incompetent PPP government taking on this huge and probably unattainable expansion at a time when the price of sugar was going down, would compound the problem and buy the lousiest factory on the planet to make and already difficult task impossible.  The AFC's analysis of the sugar problem tell us that the Demerara estates will be converted to produce ethanol and that quote "In order to provide the necessary steam and electricity needed at these factories at Enmore and Wales, new steam and electricity co-generation plants will be built at both these sites. The field area comprising a total of 40,000 acres, which would be modified over a period of 5 years to accommodate mechanical harvesters, would provide for 1,600,000MT of ripe sugar cane per annum" end quote ladies and gentlemen the AFC promises to convert 40,000 acres from cambered beds to flatlands in 5 years? I say that it can't be done. And the yield after pushing all of this top soil into the drains exposing the unfertile subsoil on the top of the bed in those cane fields, they expect to get 1.6 million tons of cane from this 40,000 acres that's 40 tons of cane per acre.All of GuySuCo's experience to date establishes that after converting cambered bed lands to flatland, a very expensive operation, the yield is always lower after the conversion and could be as low as 25 tons an acre. You would have to budget to attain that low yield of 25 tons an acre average of plant to the 4th ratoon to be realistic. So these bright, and they are bright I do not want to detract from them in that department, young economists of the AFC do not have the experience to understand the intricacies of this problem in the sugar industry.

   But tonight I want to deal with another matter. We have seen the PPP destroy the sugar industry; when they came to power it was giving almost 3 billion a year to the consolidated fund through the sugar levy, today we have to carry it on our backs since we are subsidizing it to the tune of around 3-6 billion dollars a year, but the PPP's destruction of the sugar industry dates back a lot further, but tonight I will not go into the burning of the sugar cane fields, the 135 and 108 day long strikes not to mention the numerous other strikes too long to list individually in the 70's and the 80's which crippled the industry and started its decline at a time when the price of sugar was high; I have been through that with you and we need not explore it further, enough to say that the PPP to destabilise the Burnham government contributed to Guyana becoming as poor as we are today. I met an old field worker of Versailles a few weeks ago and he told me after we talked awhile that when the PPP was instigating these strikes and arson in the industry they told the workers that they were destroying Burnham but what the PPP failed to mention was that in doing so they were also destroying Guyana as well.

    Even though they were at all times being sabotaged by the PPP and I will not sit here tonight and tell you that it was OK for the PNC to rig elections in Guyana, but there were other ways to deal with the situation and in the end it was the diplomatic processes helped by the Carter Centre which resolved the problem, so destroying the economy of the country was not the answer and the PPP have to answer to these charges.

   Tonight I want to list what was accomplished in the 28 years the PNC held office and compare it to the PPP's accomplishments over the past 20 years and I am looking solely at infrastructure tonight. I have divided the list into 4 parts PNC new roads, the  PPP's new roads, the PNC improved roads, and the PPP's improved roads. Now remember that the PPP has spent an alleged 1.7 trillion dollars in this country that's 1,700,000,000,000. A one a seven and eleven zeroes.

Here are the new roads and infrastructure which the PNC built and they are in no special order

1.      The Georgetown linden highway.

2.      The laterite road from Linden to Lethem. 

3.      The connecting road from the Lethem road to Madhia.

4.      Madhia to Bora Bora

5.      The Linden to Bartica road

6.      The Itabali to Peter's Mine road

7.      Peter's Mine to Olive creek road

8.      The beautiful Canji bridge

9.      The approaches to the Canji Bridge  i.e. main street and Backdam Road, New Amsterdam.

10.  The Ituni to Kwakani road to join the Demerara river mines to the Berbice river mines.

11.  The Demerara Harbour Bridge

12.  The Bel Lieu clay brick factory road which opened to areas along the road for housing.

13.  They built a new road to run parallel to Vlissengen road from Lamaha Street to Kitty to facilitate access to the East Coast highway.

14.  Carifesta ave

15.  Homestretch Ave

 

  A lot of these roads facilitated access to the interior of Guyana and the Amerindians especially benefited from all of this as much as anyone else.

    Here is the list of new roads and infrastructure which the PPP built during the past 20 years now remember we are talking about putting roads where there were no roads before..

1.      The railway embankment road to Mahaica. Which merged with the old East coast road to bypass the multitude of turns which the old road had just before Mahaica.

2.      The 6 mile Crabwood creek to Molson creek road.

3.      The Berbice River bridge

    Here is the list of rehabilitation of existing paved roads where there only very poorly surfaced roads existed before by the PNC.

1.      The entire West Demerara road from Patenta to Parika

2.      The number one canal road

3.      The number two canal road

4.      The Mahaica/ Rosignol project which upgraded the road from Mahaica to Rosignol from a clay brick road to an asphalted road.

5.      The Couentyne highway again upgrading this road from a clay brick road to an asphalted one.

6.      Sherrif Street

7.      Mandela avenue

8.      Young street

9.      Camp road

10.  The Houston bypass

11.  Built a new road to run parallel to Vlissengen road on the Ayangana side from Lamaha street to Kitty

12.  The split four lane highway from Kitty to Plesance

13.  The east coast highway where there were only two concrete strips before.

Here are the roads and infrastructure which the PPP rehabilated

1.      The Essequibo road from Supernam to Charity

2.      The four lane highway from Ruimveldt to Providence

3.      Repaved the Timehri road to Georgetown.

4.      Widened the East Coast road from Pleasance to Buxton.

5.      The Demerara Harbour Bridge

    I sat with a group of old engineers for several hours to create these lists and I want to thank them for giving me their time.

   In addition what these engineers told me was that the roads built by the PNC have lasted whilst the ones built by the PPP do not last more than 5-7 years.

 Now I am not going to deal with the current collapse of roads and I list a few new examples of new roads which are failing [I am not going to deal with poor work of wharves which floated away, or ferry stellings which collapsed after the first tuck went on it and which we had to rebuild three times etc., I will leave those to you who are aware of these failed projects since they happened very recently] wherever you live in this country just look at some road or bridge built by the PPP and you know what I am saying. But the sad tale of failure continues and here are some recent glaring examples which only the engineers know about, the Huags Bosch road which goes to the new dumpsite  and which was completed in February 2011 is already collapsing into the trench on both sides of the road. This road was supposed to have been constructed to carry these heavy trucks but it was not.

   The Amaila falls road, we paid Motilall 20% of the 15 million US dollars which the contract required to build this road, incredibly when the Chinese came here to see the site for the dam and saw the road they pointed out that the road was too narrow and the slope at the sides of the road which were in some places very high since its hilly terrain, were too steep and would collapse.

The Mocha Arcadia road. Apparently a road with an annual constriction period.

   There is one major disaster which the public is not fully aware of and which I want to mention tonight the new CARICOM building as beautiful as it is when you look at it from outside, it is a dysfunctional building, it was built to put all of the CARICOM persons who were occupying several buildings around the city in one place to make it more economical to run since the Guyana tax payers are footing the bill for it, since the cost of cleaning, maintaining, security etc at several locations were beginning to add up. Less than two years later the building had more cleaners that ever before, and so much wasted space that this building across the road had to be built by a private individual to accommodate people we were supposed to be accommodated in the new CARICOM building ; an informed source tells me that we are paying $30,000 US per month or 72 million Guyana dollars a year to rent this building form a known PPP supporter.  All of this is a waste of your taxes, and you have to take steps to stop it from happening in the future.

   Finally ladies and Gentlemen look around you, do you see 1.7 trillion dollars of development?