Saturday, February 28, 2009

The inherent core problem of the conservancy is not being addressed

The inherent core problem of the conservancy is not being addressed

Posted By Stabroek staff On February 27, 2009 @ 5:07 am In Letters | 3 Comments

Dear Editor,
We refer to Mr Seegobin’s letter (‘Risk analysis study for conservancy relief absolutely needed,’ SN 24.2.09) on the Hope Canal Project and recommend that he forward his concerns to the Government of Guyana for a risk analysis of the conservancy dikes and flooding which should be carried out.

In SN dated 24.2.09 the Minister of Agriculture stated that modelling for the conservancy was earlier carried out by a British and a Dutch company and they recommended that Hope is the acceptable location. Earlier in another article he stated that the water depth was higher at the Hope end and was lower at Land of Canaan end, hence the decision to locate the canal at Hope. He also said it was not necessary to fix the Land of Canaan Sluice (LOC) and canal to drain the conservancy more efficiently as recommended by one of the writers in an earlier letter. Another consultant is presently undertaking a further study of the conservancy costing some US$3.8M.

As experienced engineers who both worked in drainage and irrigation and sea defence sectors including the conservancy for a number of years, we are surprised at the approach adopted. Study after study is being carried out, yet the inherent core problem of the conservancy is not being fully addressed and there has not been any published report of the studies undertaken so far.
The canal size we mentioned in our letter was a preliminary example we roughly designed based on the 2000 cusecs capacity of the LOC relief canal. This was merely to give a perspective of the scale the hydraulic works contemplated.

We reiterate our position that unless this Hope Canal is designed to work 24 hours a day and can operate as such it will eventually become a white elephant.

It should also be noted, the discharge outlet sluice for the Hope Canal would be located through a section of the existing coastal sea wall that is over 80 years old. No proper sea defence alignment has been worked out for this area. Maintaining the existing wall during a future severe coastal erosion cycle is doubtful. We recognize that the risk and hydraulic uncertainty is very high and becomes the main limitation of constructing a major discharge structure through the existing sea wall.
Yours faithfully,
Malcolm Alli P Eng
Michael Ragwen P Eng

When considering the Hope Canal the government should take into account canal failures elsewhere in Guyana

When considering the Hope Canal the government should take into account canal failures elsewhere in Guyana

Posted By Stabroek staff On February 28, 2009 @ 5:03 am In Letters | 5 Comments

Dear Editor,
I have perused letters from Messrs Malcom Ali, Ragwin, C Sohan and R Seegobin. These engineers, particularly Malcom are all expressing their valuable opinion on flood relief for the EDWC. However, I am not sure whether the average Guyanese comprehends whether the Hope Canal is technically feasible or not. I am not entering a technical discourse on risk analysis, etc, but hopefully will bring to the average person basic and common-sense detail that ought to be a factor in the construction of Hope relief canal. In doing so, I would like to draw their attention as to how functional some existing drainage canals are, hoping some lessons can be learnt for the proposed Hope Canal.

Firstly, Canals No 1 and 2 in West Demerara. The Canals Polder is supposed to be drained by two major canals about 7 miles long, which are tidally controlled at the outlet. In spite of this, the Canals Polder floods incessantly. The farming community has never escaped inundation during significant rainfalls. The reason is that input (rainfall) less the natural losses, exceeds the output (sluice discharges), hence there are accumulations (flooding). Assuming that the canals are perfectly maintained, a flood wave emanating from the top of the catchment would have to travel at a speed that would erode the channel to reach the sluice. This does not happen as the canals are designed to flow at a velocity of 3 ft per second. The actual velocity is much lower since the canals are poorly maintained, and the velocity is checked by the weeds and sediment in the canals. Let us be conservative and say that the canals presently flow at the designed velocity. With that rate of movement of water, it will take more than 10 hours for the headwater to be conveyed. Considering that the average time the sluice opens at low tide to be 4 hours, the headwater would not reach the Demerara in time. This results in a backwater effect in the canals, resulting in the ponding and stagnation of water. Because the canals are not delivering the water in sufficient quantity, the sluices operate below capacity. Hence, we can conclude that the flooding in the polders is partly due to the lack of adequate conveyance.

The Naamryck canal is another example of a channel poorly conveying water. Naamryck is also long (4+ miles) and is controlled by spillway/gates that discharge into the Essequibo River. Like the Canals Polder, the Naamryck outfall is likewise discharging below capacity, and flooding ensues. In December 1987, when the Boeraserie Conservancy was overtopping, Naamryck was used as the relief. The government engineer of West Demerara said that the water was not moving fast enough through the canal to the spillway outlet, and there was extensive flooding due to the accumulation. Input did not equal output.

The canal leading to the two pumps at Onverwagt is an interesting case study. The two pumps at Onverwagt are part of the MMA flood relief infrastructure. The pumps are meant to be fed with a fairly wide and deep channel that drains a part of the MMA. I observed that these two pumps have a discharge capacity in excess of the rate at which the channel is capable of delivering the flows. I made those observations when I tested those pumps for hydraulic efficiency in 1982. I realised then that only one of those pumps could have been tested over a 2-hour cyclic period as the pumps were cutting off due to starvation. This means that water was not reaching the pumps fast enough via the canal. It was determined that about 2 hours was required to allow the flows to re-accumulate in the reach of the canal immediately upstream of the pumping station, hence the 2 hour cycle was chosen. I concluded in my report to the then Hydraulics Division that the canal could not deliver the water required for even a single pump to operate on a continuous basis. (A major problem that had to be considered in the conveyance of the canal is the rapid drawdown of the water level in the channel, which caused the banks to fail.)
Another example is the failure of the conveyance channel to provide flood relief to my native village. I grew up in Meten Meer Zorg, and frequently woke up to the villages flooded with overnight rain. The flood relief was again a sluice discharging into the Atlantic. I vividly remember that the discharge at the sluice never appeared to be at capacity in spite of the fact that the village is knee-deep in water. I later understood the reason. Simply, the floodwater was never conveyed efficiently to the sluice to be discharged during low tide periods as there is a travel time required to move floods to the sluice. Obviously, MMZ flooded because the required travel time for the flood waves exceeded the hours that the sluice could remain open, so like all other villagers, I waited on the next low tide. In the meantime, there was a build-up of water, backwater effects were created in the trench and increases in accumulations occurred.

What lesson can we learn from the above mentioned examples of drainage canals failure to convey the floods to the outfalls? Liliendaal and Anna Regina are other examples. Knowing that the discharges for the Hope Canal could take 2 to 3 days to travel the length of the proposed canal to the Atlantic, the outflows/discharges would be tidally influenced, and given the above four examples of flooding attributed to travel time (conveyance) failures, do Guyanese have hope that the Hope Canal would function effectively? The Guyanese public is eager to know that the government engineer/consultant knows the answer before they begin to spend $3B.

I acknowledge Mr C Sohan for recognising the conveyance problem. You may recall that he said, “It is estimated that floodwater from critical parts of the EDWC could take from 24-48 hours to reach any one of the relief sluices” (SN February 9), in his review of the Hope Canal proposition. For Hope to function, a steady state condition has to be created, where output from the conservancy can be equal to the output at the sluice gates. But for this idealized situation to happen, the coordination between the release at the conservancy and the discharge has to be continuous beyond the time the tide allows the sluices to open. The proliferation of weeds, bank failures and sediment deposition would create imbalances that would affect the desired steady-state conditions. Let us not build another Canals Polder, Naamryck, or Onverwagt canal.
Yours faithfully,
Ram Dharamdial
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5 Comments To "When considering the Hope Canal the government should take into account canal failures elsewhere in Guyana"

#1 Comment By M. Xiu Quan-Balgobind-Hackett (-214) On February 28, 2009 @ 8:25 am

Thanks, Mr. Dharamdial. You have the rare gift of explaining a difficult concept to the layman, the non-intuitive differences between moving water and stationary water. Keep it up.

#2 Comment By michael tannassee On February 28, 2009 @ 9:09 am

….. Ram’s missive is concise as far as his theories of input that will always be more than the output is able to handle ,, regardless of where the output is located ,, unless the output is made to flow twenty four seven (24/7)… and that would have to be done by two canals from just below the EDWC to the Berbice and Demerara rivers ,,
and they MUST be engineered to flow 24/7,,,, 24/7 ,,, 24/7 ,, 24/7,,,, TWO CANALS ,, FROM JUST BELOW de EDWC to de BERBICE an de DEMERARA RIVERS ,,, an mek shor ahyuh dig am fuh watah flo all de time,,,, day an nite ,, if ahyuh want fuh live whey ahyuh ah live now ,, in comfort ! but meh still ah seh ahyuh gon gat to move caz de canals to the two rivers named above is onle TEMPORARY !!!! juss remebah dah !…….

#3 Comment By Ralph Seegobin On February 28, 2009 @ 12:38 pm

You are quite correct in your reasoning. If we forget the past we are bound to repeat it. The canal apart from conveyance is also storing water (the backwater as you mention) for release through the sluice for the next tide. All valid inputs for the model including the canal efficiency and time it takes water to travel to its discharge destination. My current work responsibility includes seek out information from the clients maintenance group to incorporate into our design. Sometimes we cannot incorporate all their requirements but the maintenance is made aware of special needs of the project. Numerous model scenarios can be developed and the shortcoming of each can be examined. Again this is no playing ground for experiment. Am sure the MoA/NDIA are reading. We can design the best working hydrological model but what about the management of the reservoir in particular forcasting. The reservoir must be able to release water and to recapture water from forecasted rainfall. How good is the weather forcasting?

#4 Comment By caesar agustus On February 28, 2009 @ 2:05 pm

The only use of this hopeless canal is that it is hopelessly useless for draining below sea level,hopeless because the sea is higher than the canal,will be useful for the number of persons who will be drowned in it,a maintainance nightmare,and a burden on taxpayers,not politicians.And, another excuse for politicians to gloat over “i did this and that.” Get rid of this canal idea.

#5 Comment By Sarkar On February 28, 2009 @ 2:51 pm

Exactly! Forecasting is of utmost importance (remember when everyday the forecast was ‘fair to cloudy, with a few scattered showers’? Just revisit Justin Concern). This is not the end…. Who will interpret the forecast? Who will be responsible enough to understand when flow at inlet must be reduced or enhanced, in other words where is the responsible management? Point taken! I need not mention what happened at Mahaica creek. You must remember if the canal is to be used for storage then sedimentation follows. Flow design must be the key for efficiency.

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Risk analysis study for conservancy relief absolutely needed

Risk analysis study for conservancy relief absolutely needed

Posted By Stabroek staff On February 24, 2009 @ 5:03 am In Letters | 2 Comments

Dear Editor,

The Government of Guyana is undaunted in its decision to discharge the relief structure & canal towards the Atlantic Ocean. Three opinions were expressed via SN’s letter columns: Engineer Charles Sohan agrees with the decision to drain to the Atlantic, Engineers Malcolm Alli & Mike Ragwen are in favour of a discharge to the Demerara River and I (also an Engineer by profession) prefer to let the results from a hydrological model and risk analysis determine the discharge location before spending $3B on the waterway.

My opinion was first published in the SN on 1-31-09 and may not have been totally understood since Engineers Alli and Ragwen were more interested in my modeling capability for low-level lands. It is against this background my response was conceived and will at the same time serve to substantiate my initial letter and hopefully will catch the attention of the relevant policy makers within the Government including the Tender Board.

My experience allows me to write about hydrological modeling as it pertains to the East Demerara Water Conservancy in conjunction with modeling for open conveyance systems (canals). Engineers Alli & Ragwen are of the opinion that ‘modeling for multiple outlets into tidal and non tidal areas is not simple”. I disagree, routing model software have ‘come a far way’ making them competitive, helpful and user friendly. The challenging task is to obtain tidal input data (the tidal cycle) for running the model. The tidal data will never-the-less still be needed to ‘come up with’ the number of doors required for the sluice. An important prediction on the effect of the tidal cycle due to global warming will have to be made. Do we prefer the Atlantic for gravity drainage or pump drainage? What is the operational plan during the dry weather?

I will now substantiate my initial letter. As part of the input parameters for modeling I included the length and cross section of the canals. This was not ‘by guess’. I have anticipated that the software of choice should be able to route the conservancy to the outfall, hence the need to have design information on the proposed and existing canals. The proposed canal (at Hope or Land of Canaan) should serve, at the least, dual functions: increased storage for the conservancy and act as conveyance for flood relief and is an integral part in the conservancy modeling process. I do not expect the consultant to model only the hydraulics of the canal unless (I reiterate) it is a canal design project and the flow is already known.

I did not get into details of risk analysis in my initial letter since it is not my area of expertise but what I did not expect was having engineers seek details about my risk plan specifics and suggesting that if this is rarely used as a management tool in Guyana then it should not be. My answer is simply TWW (Total Wrong Wuk). My position remains, a risk analysis study is required. The risks will eventually summarize costs and costs lead to decision making and approaches for funding. I need not be reminded about the need for dam safety analysis, this is a definite requirement.

My peers also have approximated the size of the canal needed. This I opine is premature, misleading and guesswork, even if they have access to information (reports on the conservancy) that the Government does not. Again I ask “Where are all the old reports from major projects undertaken in British Guiana”?

The Government has openly stated that Hope was the best site for the relief structure. I think they should consider making public the document/evidence that suggests that the Hope Canal is the best option before adventuring into spending $3B or are we launching the first “white” water project (as against white elephant) and I agree with Engineer Sohan that a re-tender should not be ruled out.

Yours faithfully,
Ralph Seegobin
(Professional Engineer)
2 Comments (Open | Close)

2 Comments To "Risk analysis study for conservancy relief absolutely needed"

#1 Comment By Brendan Samaroo On February 24, 2009 @ 6:13 am

Mr. President & Minister of Agriculture would it not make some sense to get all of these gentlemen together sit down and have a meeting with them and hear them out?

Is that too adult a thing for this government to consider?

#2 Comment By Cummins On February 24, 2009 @ 8:24 am

Before I took up a career in global business and policy I was a mechanical engineer. One of the things I learned and understood in undergraduate school and early career is that if engineers are arguing among themselves then nobody in the group knows what they are talking about for engineering is an (almost) exact science. All results and actions should be streaming from a UNIVERSALLY ACCEPTED mathematical formula that was TESTED and PROVEN in a laboratory setting and by prototype model. Apply the wrong formula and the results could be catastrophic and deadly. I find it disheartening that engineers are having a street fight over which formula or method to apply. In business policy we get do-overs, in engineering there are none; take it from me who have practiced in both fields.

Ralph, in the absence of knowing at what level the referenced gentlemen are in their respective careers your PE certification gives you more credibility on this argument as far as I am concerned. I am sensing the other gentlemen are more making a cost decision and we know the rule of engineering is safety first, cost second.
I wish you guys can agree on what formula should be applied.

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Saturday, February 21, 2009

Glaring discrepancies

Kaieteur News editorial, Saturday 21 February 2009

Glaring discrepancies
February 21, 2009 | By knews |
Filed Under Editorial

The economic projections in the January 2009 report on Guyana by the
Economic Intelligence Unit are far different from those of the Finance
Minister Dr Ashni Singh in his 2009 Budget.
According to the report, following estimated real Gross Domestic Product
(GDP) growth of 4.6 per cent in 2008, the EIU expects economic growth to
slow to 1.8 per cent in 2009 as external conditions worsen.
This is contrary to the three per cent growth predicted by Dr Singh and
severely challenged during the 2009 Budget debate in the National Assembly.
The forecast for 2010 did appear better in that the EIU expects a modest
improvement, with GDP growth rising to 2.2 per cent. It also projected that
gross fixed investment growth will slow to 2.3 per cent in 2009 as current
building projects at the Skeldon sugar factory and the Berbice Bridge reach
It was pointed out that other large investment projects, such as the Amaila
Falls hydroelectric project and the proposed alumina plant at Linden, are
unlikely to begin during the forecast period.
It noted also that an important source of growth will be exports and,
although EIU expects export values to fall by over 30 per cent in 2009, the
value of gold exports should remain high, while demand for rice and sugar
which are Guyana's two most important export crops would remain roughly
Sugar output is expected to be buoyed by the completion of the Skeldon sugar
factory. "However, GuySuCo (Guyana Sugar Corporation) will have to contend
with a 12.5 per cent cut in the sugar price in euro terms, from US$727.
"This lower price will be in place until the termination of the sugar
protocol in September 2009, after which there will be free access for
increased quotas at an unspecified guaranteed price until September 2012,"
according to a report by the Economic Intelligence Unit.
It noted also that flooding and other weather-related hazards remain an
ongoing risk for agriculture, and indeed for mining and other economic
sectors. The Economic Intelligence Unit is a specialist publisher serving
companies establishing and managing operations across national borders. For
60 years it has been a source of information on business developments,
economic and political trends, government regulations and corporate practice
The Economic Intelligence Unit delivers its information in four ways:
through its digital portfolio, where the latest analysis is updated daily;
through printed subscription products ranging from newsletters to annual
reference works; through research reports; and by organising seminars and
The firm is also a member of The Economist Group.
The Parliamentary Opposition has also been critical of the budget, pointing
to what it sees as glaring inefficiencies and misrepresentations. But the
government has hit back, accusing the Opposition of ignoring the basic
However, the Economic Intelligence Unit seems to be in the corner of the
political opposition, pointing to the anticipated shortfalls that the budget
either ignores or fudges to look better than the reality.
Already, much is being made of the fact that taxes form the bulk of the
budget when export earnings should have been the major revenue earner. Taxes
will account for more that seventy per cent of the budget, fuelling the
calls for a reduction in the value added tax, which the Opposition says is a
The government, however, sees this tax as necessary since it allows for the
improvement in the welfare of many Guyanese. This tax helps fund certain
social services such as old age pensions, subsidy of the electricity and
water sector, and cushioning the nation from some of the hostile prices on
the world market.

Concern about lack of ‘visible improvement’ in judicial system

Concern about lack of ‘visible improvement’ in judicial system

Posted By Stabroek staff On February 20, 2009 @ 5:05 am In Local News | No Comments
- Riehl

New regulations to strengthen accountability in the judicial system are under review as the ongoing justice administration modernisation continues, but there is concern about the lack of “visible improvement” in the sector.
Charles Ramson [1]

Charles Ramson

According to newly-appointed Attorney General Charles Ramson SC., the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) had considered judicial rules and regulations, which have since been referred to acting Chancellor Carl Singh for his consideration before transmission to the next level. The new code is expected to include the establishment of sanction provisions, mechanisms for filing of complaints, and timeliness guidelines. Ramson, who gave an update on the US$25M Modernisa-tion of the Justice Admin-istration System programme during his presentation to the National Assembly on Wednesday evening, also said new civil procedure rules have been drafted and are in the process of being sent to Guyana Bar Association (GBA) for comment. Prior to his appointment to the Ministry, he was part of the committee that helped draft the rules, which are intended to reduce the length of time from filing to hearing of a case.
Clarissa Riehl [2]

Clarissa Riehl

He said that he is also expected to receive a status report on the development of an action plan for reorganisation of the Chambers of the Director of Public Prosecu-tions, for which the consultancy began the previous week, while his own ministry had completed the same day a consultancy on the financial management of the Charles Ramsonjudiciary. He added that the only area that is a cause for concern is a framework not adequately addressed by a local consultancy firm, which he said would be revisited.

Ramson, who resumed the position upon the retirement of former AG Doodnauth Singh SC from practice, opined that a lot of work had been done. He cited the automation of the records of the Guyana Deeds Registry. He stated that the names of 15,600 businesses and companies have been automated, in order to ensure a reduction of time for commercial transactions by a third or less than what currently obtains. Additionally, he revealed that a link is being developed between the Registry and the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA), to aid revenue collection.

He assured the House that barring unforeseen developments outside of his competence, a further progress report would be made.

PNCR-1G MP Clarissa Riehl, however, in her presentation yesterday noted that almost two years into the reform programme, there are no visible signs of improvement in the sector, which is still plagued by, among other things, judicial vacancies, a backlog of cases and a high number of remanded prisoners.

In her presentation on the debate, Riehl noted that there continue to be vacancies in the High Court and the Court of Appeal, although the Judicial Service Commission made recommendations since April last year to fill them. She said the courts “limp along” without a full complement for any reason other than the apparent cavalier attitude of the executive towards the judiciary. According to her, there are 900 lawyers currently on roll, including 19 senior counsel and 50 lawyers, each with more than 20 years experience at the bar.

Riehl argued that the judicial vacancies contributed to the backlog of cases. She also expressed concern about prisoners on remand, noting Home Affairs Ministry statistics indicated that there were 832 prisoners at the Georgetown Prison awaiting trial in the courts, including some who have not had their cases heard in almost four years. The figure accounted for 36% of the overall prison population and included 752 prisoners awaiting trials, and another 103 are convicted prisoners waiting to be tried in the High Court. Among the reasons for the situation, she said, is that magistrates do not use their discretion enough, while the police eagerly make applications for remand.
Noting the widespread perception of corruption in Guyana, Riehl also drew attention to a $13 million allocation in the budget for support staff in the Office of the Ombudsman, although no one has been appointed to fill the substantive post for almost five years. According to the Constitution, the Ombudsman may investigate any action taken by any government department or by the President and Ministers. Riehl added that while the last holder of the office, S.Y Mohamed, submitted regular reports, he had indicated that his office was largely ignored by the administration and that he lacked the investigators and legal advisers the office required. Riehl said while the continuing allocations for the support staff indicated that the government does not want to do away with the office, the failure to appoint anyone to the post could be regarded as a negation of the rights of the citizens.

Meanwhile, Riehl also alerted the Assembly to the predicament facing a city Magistrate who is presiding over the first case in which there has been an application for a paper committal. Last October, the National Assembly passed a bill to vest magistrates with the power to commit accused persons to trial in the High Court if a prima facie case is made out based on written instead of oral evidence. According to Riehl, the new law is causing serious problems because it is not specific enough to guide the Magistrate and there are no attendant regulations for its operation. In this regard, she reminded that the opposition has been continually urging regulations for new laws even as the government insists on rushing legislation through the House.

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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Ubiquitous conspicuity of elected dictatorship

Kaieteur News Freddie Kissoon column, Thursday 12 February 2009

Ubiquitous conspicuity of elected dictatorship
February 12, 2009 | By knews |
Filed Under Features / Columnists
, Freddie

By now, most readers would know that I have accepted the theorizing of the
nature of post-perestroika countries by Fareed Zakaria. Professor Zakaria
rose to fame in the scholarly world when he theorized that free and fair
election in a country does not necessarily lead to the concretization of
On the contrary, he adumbrates a scenario where the winner of elections can
in fact turn back the clock. Instead of using their legal mandate to ensure
greater freedom, the rulers create an authoritarian structure that subtracts
from the flow of democracy. If Zakaria can classify Antigua as partially
democratic, what would he discover if he comes to Guyana?
The two countries that have lent credibility to Zakaria's paradigm are
Guyana and Russia. These are two countries where authoritarian structures
have endured for a long time. In Russia for over two hundred years.
In Guyana, since colonial times and all of the post-colonial period right up
to Mr. Jagdeo in February 2009. In both countries, one does not even see a
slight movement towards less centralized authority or a thin layer of
accountability developing.
It is much too early to predict what will happen in Russia where Putin looks
stronger than ever.
In Guyana, a ragged, jagged, faded, disunited, non-visionary opposition
umbrella does not know where the overdrive button is and we are just two
years away from a national poll. A PPP victory is likely if an Obama-like
ambience does not evolve between now and October 2010. The trouble with
modern man and woman is that give them ultra-modern comfort and they become
oblivious to dictatorship. People want a wealthy country that can make their
future secure.
Russia's economy is doing brilliantly. Putin takes advantage of this. In
Guyana, Mr. Jagdeo is literally millions of years behind Putin because we
are dirt poor.
His party can be routed if the combined opposition could architecture an
Obama-like landscape that can inspire the rural folks and the Amerindians.
One must remember that in 2011 the PPP will not have the kind of money Putin
has. The PPP will have nothing to show except the pathology of race-baiting
which is their trump card.
Whether elected dictatorship falls in 2011 or is reinvigorated by another
PPP victory solely depends on the opposition parties, civil society, the
human rights community and the free, private media. There can be no doubt
that there has been a rapid degeneration of the chemistry of elected
dictatorship since the last general election.
Perhaps the best term to describe the situation is a runaway train. One
cannot point to a single item of inspiration on the political front that is
a significant and substantial departure from the old PNC/PPP style of
authoritarian arrogance. It gets worse with every passing moment (not day,
but moment).
One is inclined to the perception that things have fallen apart and maybe
soon the PPP's state machinery may implode. There is no pause. There is no
respite. There is no moment of lull. Mr. Jagdeo just keeps riding a train
that is out of control. Begin to name it and your essay ends up in volumes.
Where to start? The rejection of the Freedom of Information Act? Or the
betrayal of the consensus covenant after Lusignan and Bartica? Or the
de-recognition of the TUC and the elevation of FITUG? Forget about where to
start and let us look at what happened this week. A man or a woman (or
thing) has violated the city's by-laws by attempting to build an
entertainment centre in the heart of Subryanville.
No one can ascertain the name of the builder because a governmental entity,
the Central Housing & Planning Authority, refuses to supply an identity. It
was the City Council that told us that there is still a spot of democracy
left in Guyana when it named the investor.
Every citizen should reflect on this secrecy of dictatorship and how this
type of government has crept up on us. If you had a City Council controlled
by the ruling party and the City Council bureaucracy earned its income from
a PPP-controlled treasury, that name would have ended up in the conspiracy
hall of the ruling party just as what happened with the Italian family that
was building the Hotel complex by Fort Groyne in Kingston.
Once the rulers dominate every sphere of society, dictatorship is
inevitable. Think of the deeper miasma this country would have been swimming
in if there weren't private media houses. And to think PPP stalwart Hydar
Ally wrote last week that the PNC should apologize to this nation over its
misrule. Indeed, the signs of elected dictatorship are all around.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

The model and risk analysis are everything to the Hope Canal project

Stabroek News letter. 3 February 2009. The model and risk analysis are everything to the Hope Canal project.

Dear Editor,

I have read with interest the numerous letters and articles written about the proposed design of the relief structure(s) for the EDWC. Both engineers Malcolm Alli and Charles Sohan must be commended for their points of view. Hope bidders took advantage of those opinions. The tenders are open and it is time to evaluate.

To the designer, the hydrological model entails basins, nodes and reaches. Basins flow to nodes. Reaches (also called links) connect nodes. That translates to storing rain in a conservancy (node) and discharging it through a few structures and/or canals (reaches) to the outfalls (node). Of course, numerous software can perform this function, so what is the problem? The answer is obtaining the input parameters: determining the design storm, defining the drainage basins areas/divides, calculating the time of concentrations, calculating soil hydrologic curve numbers, computing the conservancy stage-storage relationship, determining tailwater conditions to the boundary nodes (outfall, maybe tidal), the length and cross section of canals, existing or proposed (reaches), discharge structures geometrics, head loss coefficients, other discharge coefficients, base flow characteristics (if any), evapo-transpiration losses, etc. Easy to read, but very time consuming to determine. Remember in modelling, garbage in is garbage out (the GIGO rule).

In principle the model is attenuating the rainfall (called runoff) for release at a later time, in engineering terms to control the outflow hydrograph. I would like to briefly expand on the difficulties that the designer may have to accurately determine just two of the above parameters: drainage basin areas/divides and the conservancy stage-storage relationship. Drainage basin divides give areas that define the watershed. How can these be verified? From old contour maps, maybe, or the use of areas from past reports. If we do not want to use the past records then what? Remember if less area is modelled than actually exists, the runoff will be underestimated. If there is insufficient time to verify areas then assumptions will have to be made. The conservancy stage-storage (or stage-area) relationship is required. How can this be determined? From a past report, but will this be a reflection of the existing situation? The questions can go on and on.

The bottom line is that I foresee a lot of assumptions will have to be made to run the model. A risk analysis may be required to assess the impact of the assumptions. The output of the model will therefore be used to determine the capacity of the canal. The canal and conservancy will have to be checked against some predetermined constraints and varying tailwater conditions. My point is a number of iterations and scenarios would have to be developed. Locating the canal at either Hope or Land of Canaan can be scenarios to be considered and recommended.

Are our local consultants capable of undertaking such a modelling exercise? I doubt it. It is my opinion that the GOG is skimming the surface on this one and has only a vague idea as to the depth of expertise required for this undertaking. Again I reiterate the model and risk analysis are everything to this project. Surely the local engineers can design a canal or is this what the project is all about? I also think the GOG should consider hiring Independent Technical Reviewers (ITR) to review the consultant’s work, ie model - structural, geotechnical, etc. Investing in ITR will be money well spent. My fellow engineers may have heard this before, ‘Doctors bury their mistakes, engineers live with theirs.’ I hope my view helps in some way in coming up with the best design approach.

Yours faithfully,
Ralph V Seegobin
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The Integrity Commission is not a subject for spinning

The Integrity Commission is not a subject for spinning

Posted By Staff On February 8, 2009 @ 5:01 am In Letters | No Comments
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Dear Editor,
Perhaps it is because in cricketing terms both Dr Prem Misir and Mr Kwame McKoy would be considered spinners of the pedigree of Ramadhin and Valentine; perhaps it is because they work at the same place, or that they write and think alike; or perhaps it is their knack for assigning a political party because they do not understand or practise independence, political or otherwise, but whatever it is, Dr Misir’s missive in the Stabroek News (February 3), repeated I believe in all the dailies, wishing me luck in my campaign in the 2011 elections surely extends their line about my political goals and plans. Dr Misir was even generous enough to wish me well, but then undermines his sincerity with the words, “I really mean it.” Or perhaps Dr Misir understands the need for such an attestation clause to add to his credibility. Whatever it is, I now make this public promise: If ever I decide to participate in the 2011 or the 2021 elections, which would be my preference, I will inform Dr Misir and Kwame first. After all they will, for their own purpose, publicise the news quickly and widely. And I really mean it!

In responding to the Business Page article on the Integrity Commission, Dr Misir made bold to say that the Integrity Commission exists with a functioning secretariat. What he did not tell us is how well it is functioning. Nor does he say that the secretariat as presently constituted cannot carry out its mandate under the Integrity Act, 1997. He does not say too that the commission, including the secretariat, has failed in routine administrative functions and that the commission and the commissioners have been derelict in their statutory duties. And that the commission has only an accounts clerk.

I can only wonder how Dr Misir can be so badly informed that he seems unaware of the rather uncomplimentary report done by external consultants Bradford and Associates, and that for over two years the accountable and self-appointed Minister, President Jagdeo, has been unable or unwilling to address the commission’s identified structural, organisational and operational deficiencies and the report’s recommendations, which this administration gave a commitment to the World Bank that it would implement. I am never sure whether the World Bank and the IMF are hopelessly spineless or dangerously gullible.

Dr Misir praises the President for sounding the alarm bell, which is the doctor’s euphemism for threatening a targeted group with prosecution. He does not say that the alarm came long into the still-born state of the commission and speculates on the President’s reasons for the timing of the chiming. Why he has to speculate given that he is the President’s spokesperson-in-chief is a bit of a mystery, every bit as surprising as penning his letter − apparently in his personal capacity. Perhaps it is because he described the episode started by the President as the “integrity thing.” But it is more than that; it is about possible criminal conduct, the rule of law, accountability and transparency. It is about how some politicians and “public servants” have come to acquire significant wealth on a bare state salary. It is about the kind of society and white collar criminality we as a society are prepared to tolerate. This is not something for spinning.

Some years ago when President Jagdeo appointed the wife of someone subsequently discredited to be a member of the Integrity Commission I wrote publicly that the commission itself needed a dose of integrity. I am now more convinced than then. As commissioners they need to be more virtuous than Caesar’s wife, ensuring that they comply with all the laws of the country and are scrupulously forthright about their compliance with all the country’s laws, including those relating to taxes.

But we need to fix more than the commission, which was part of the “integrity thing.” Imagine the President has not notified the commission of the resignation of Chairman George! Is this for real? We need to get the Office of the Ombudsman, the Procurement Commission and a proper Money Laundering Unit functioning. We need to free the Guyana Revenue Authority from political influence that may inhibit their zeal in going after the big-time tax evaders. We need proper campaign financing rules to free political parties from their secret and secretive donors.

We need an Office of the DPP which enjoys the total confidence of the public. And let us not forget, we need an Audit Office where the wife of a Minister does not hold a senior post.

It is time that we begin the serious and considerable work to be done; it is not a time to spin.
But back to Dr Misir’s letter. The letter jumps from me to the PNC, and then remembering what he had set out to do, ie respond to Business Page, he jumps right back to me in his closing paragraph. Perhaps Dr Misir was being too clever by half: accuse by association.

Finally, if Dr Misir wants to find out how a real Integrity Commission works I recommend that he consider what is happening with the Integrity Commission in Trinidad and Tobago.

If he does he will see that their Integrity Commission is enshrined in their constitution rather than a mere law; he will see the quality, qualification and background of its commissioners and the clout the commission has exercised in that country. In fact, just this past Thursday the entire commission comprising Chartered Accountant John C Martin, Chairman; retired Supreme Court Judge and former Chief Parliamentary Counsel Monica Barnes; Finance Consultant Peter Clarke and Chartered Accountant Vindar-Dean Mohammed, a full-time Member of the Tax Appeal Board resigned en bloc having been criticized by a judge. Their resignations took effect on submission to President Ellis.

Since I believe we have a duty to our fellow Guyanese to share knowledge and information, I am sending a copy of today’s (Friday) Trinidadian Guardian to Dr Misir. I hope he shares it with Kwame. And I really mean it!
Yours faithfully,
Christopher Ram

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How was the figure for the cost of the Hope Canal arrived at?

Stabroek News letter. 22 January 2009. How was the figure for the cost of the Hope Canal arrived at?

Dear Editor,

I applaud your January 12 editorial (‘Relief from the conservancy’) wherein a number of pertinent issues were raised regarding the proposed northern relief channel for the East Demerara Water Conservancy (EDWC) to be located at Hope/Dochfour.

There is no doubt this will be a complex and costly project and it is important, as was stated, that the engineering decisions be sound and carefully made to enable the completed project to satisfy the required objective of removing flood water from EDWC and discharge it into the Atlantic Ocean in an efficient, safe and timely manner.

An invitation to bid for consultancy services has been issued and responses have to be submitted by January 27. It appears there was a delay in the availability of tender documents and the time given for bid submission is evidently limited. These constraints will certainly adversely affect reputable consultants expected to submit meaningful bids let alone their ability to mobilize teams of local and foreign personnel for joint venture submissions. The National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA) should not delude itself into thinking that all the required skills needed to design and construct this project are available locally. Substantial engineering consulting work will have to be done overseas for data analyses and design since the work envisaged will include, but not be limited to flood routing and simulation/modelling of the conservancy with its various outlets to determine the capacity of the proposed relief channel. This capacity will also dictate the size and geometry of the inlet and outlet structures, channel width and slopes. Important data necessary for design remain to be collected. These will have to include stream gauging on all outlet structures to determine their discharges over a given time, but particularly during periods of heavy rainfall with the conservancy at its optimum level. Geotechnical investigations will have to be carried out for the foundations of the many structures to be built as well as for the channel slope and embankments. The effects of sling mud and other littoral drifts as well as tidal fluctuations on the discharge of the outlet structure into the ocean to ensure optimum output at all times will have to be determined for the purposes of hydraulic design. Last but not least will be the need for comprehensive topographic and detailed site surveys for various aspects of the project design. The consultants should also be required to examine the feasibility of constructing one outlet structure, preferably across the sea defence for the release of floodwater from the conservancy directly into the ocean instead of two (the other across the conservancy dam) as is now contemplated. This could possibly result in considerable project cost reduction.

After all the relevant data have been collected and analyzed, and the design completed, tenders will have to be invited for project construction unless NDIA is contemplating a turnkey project. If a construction contract is contemplated, it will take several months for contract review and award as well as for the contractor’s mobilization before actual construction starts. Therefore given the size and complexity of this project it is unlikely that it could be completed and functional in under three years.

Based on the requirements for data collection, design and construction given above it is inconceivable that this project could start in June ’09 and be completed by June ’10. Another major hurdle yet to overcome is funding. A cost of $3 billion (US$15 million) for this project has been stated by the President of the Republic. It is mind boggling as to how this figure was arrived at, since no design, bill of quantities and costing have been prepared for this project. NDIA has to assure the people of Region 4 in no uncertain terms where funding to construct this project will come from, particularly during this difficult financial period when loans, gifts and handouts have all but disappeared. In addition, the government has incurred large external debts, and is strapped for cash to carry out even basic services or provide financial assistance to flood-stricken farmers in the region and elsewhere who have suffered damage to their homes, loss of livestock and crops and who are on the verge of starvation as a result of the yearly flooding of their homesteads due to mismanagement and the lack of adequate investment in the drainage system in their community.

Finally, the residents of Region 4 should not be misled into thinking that the proposed relief channel for the EDWC will be constructed any time soon, despite the rhetoric. NDIA is accustomed to crisis management of its facilities, and much of the same should be expected during those cycles of heavy rainfall yet to come. Nevertheless, this is an important project and if it does get off the ground its execution should be transparent. Its design and construction should be undertaken by reputable consultants/contractors with proven track records to ensure that public funds are well spent on a much needed project whose objective is to alleviate the yearly sufferings and fears caused by flooding. It is hoped this project does not end up being another Amaila Falls Hydropower or Marriott Hotel, projects which have gone nowhere despite high expectations and the injudicious doling out of scarce tax dollars to undertake questionable upfront preliminary works hurriedly thought-out and based on uncertain promises.

Yours faithfully,
Charles Sohan
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Jagdeo in talks for donor funding for proposed $3B Hope canal.

Stabroek News news item. 20 January 2009. Jagdeo in talks for donor funding for proposed $3B Hope canal.

President Bharrat Jagdeo said he is in discussion with donors to fund the $3B Hope Conservancy Relief project, but was against releasing any names yesterday since it is still early in the negotiations.

Though expenditure for the project will be reflected in this year’s budget, he disclosed that he is in talks to secure part funding. The President was at the time addressing the media at a press conference at State House.

The Head of State pointed out that the $100M that allocated to affect farmers in areas which have been severely affected by flooding is currently being disbursed and according to him the assistance is not the end of it. He declared that the administration will continue to “hold [farmers] hands throughout the whole process”.

In emphasizing the point about continued assistance being shown to those affected, Jagdeo said, a plan has already been drawn up for the full amount of allocated resources to be used up. He said some $16M had been handed out up to yesterday.

The President pointed out that some of the assistance to farmers would include the distribution of seeds; chemical; fertilizer; veterinary supplies; livestock feed; spraying equipment and fuel among other items, which are part of the plan that have been worked out.

It is expected that will work on the Hope Conservancy Relief project, which will constantly drain water from the East Demerara Water Conservancy (EDWC) into the Atlantic Ocean can begin within six months. Jagdeo has previously insisted that this initiative is being treated as a priority and that certain projects such as the construction of roads will be held back so as to ensure that the project is completed by June 2010.

Currently, water, when it is near the top of the conservancy which can hold 59 GD, is drained through the Mahaica Creek, which affects thousands of residents in the area. About three weeks ago, water from the EDWC was released through the Maduni and later the Lama sluices which added to the rain water which had already accumulated on the land.

Two consultancies bid for Hope canal

Stabroek News news item. 28 January 2009. Two consultancies bid for Hope canal.

Two bids have been submitted to the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board, for consultancy services for the construction of the Hope Conservancy Relief Structure.

One of the bids was submitted by E&A Consultants Inc. and the other was a joint bid submitted by the SRK Engineering firm in association with McDonald’s Construction Company. Stabroek News has confirmed that E&A Consultants Inc. and SRK Engineering are local firms.

The tenders were yesterday opened in the boardroom of the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board of the Ministry of Finance, after the deadline was extended by one week. Minister of Agriculture Robert Persaud told Stabroek News last week that this was done to facilitate bids from interested overseas-based engineers.

The firms have tendered to provide consultancy services for the provision of engineering design of the East Demerara Water Conservancy Northern Relief Structure at Hope/Dochfour, East Coast Demerara, Region No.4. Recently, President Bharrat Jagdeo announced that $3B was being budgeted for the building of a special relief channel to drain water from the East Demerara Water Conservancy (EDWC). After a period of consultancy, work on the relief channel is expected to begin later this year and is slated to be completed by June 2010.

Stabroek News was told yesterday that the bids will be subjected to the normal procedure regarding such projects. This means that they will be examined by an evaluation team-which will most likely comprise a senior official of the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA) and experienced engineers. The bids will be examined according to the criteria within the bid document and once all the necessary criteria are met a recommendation will be made. This recommendation will then have to be confirmed by the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board of the Ministry of Finance. This process could be completed within a month this newspaper was told.

However, there are mixed views about the construction of this conservancy with several experienced engineers saying that such a construction may not be the best option to drain the EDWC. Minister of Agriculture Robert Persaud, however, said that the exact form of this relief channel has not been confirmed as yet and that the best engineering decision will be made.

Another major concern raised was whether the one year deadline set by the government is realistic, especially when factors such as the size and complexity of the project are considered. One letter writer, Charles Sohan, opined that a project of such magnitude would take a minimum of three years to be completed.

Sohan also queried how the figure of $3B (US$15M) was arrived at since no design, bill of quantities and costing have been prepared for this project. Experienced local engineer, Malcolm Alli also stated that $3B will not be enough to complete the job. He said that the extensive construction which would include constructing a canal 80 ft wide and 10 miles long, as well as two large sluices, several bridges over the canal, a bridge at the roadway, access roads and other structures will all have to be financed.

Alli advised that rather than investing in this relief structure, that efforts be made to improve the 5-door sluice at Land of Canaan on the East Bank of Demerara in addition to the one 7-door Abary Control Sluice at the Abary River.

Project Director of the Guyana Citizen’s Initiative (GCI), Dr Rupert Roopnaraine told Stabroek News that the authorities should work on improving the outlets towards the Demerara River rather than invest so much money in what is a challenging undertaking. According to Roopnaraine, he has been advised by engineers that improving the capacity of the outlets closer to the Demerara River would greatly ease the strain on the side of the EDWC nearer to the Atlantic Ocean.
Meanwhile Executive member of the Guyana Association of Professional Engineers (GAPE), Melvyn Sankies stated that it is imperative that advice from older engineers be sought. Minister Robert Persaud said that the government is open to advice from such individuals.

This newspaper was reliably informed that the authorities have approached a senior local engineer for advice on the way forward concerning this relief channel.

Agri Minister says best engineering decision will be made

Stabroek News news item, 26 January 2009. Wisdom of Hope canal queried.

Agri Minister says best engineering decision will be made

Government’s decision to construct a canal at Hope to drain the East Demerara Water Conservancy (EDWC) into the Atlantic Ocean has come in for scrutiny and at least one experienced engineer, Malcolm Alli, has publicly declared that the proposed construction is not the best option.
Robert Persaud

Robert Persaud

President Bharrat Jagdeo recently announced that his government will spend $3B towards the construction of this East Coast canal which is expected to serve as a more efficient and less destructive means of releasing water from the conservancy. At present, when the EDWC is at a dangerous level, water from the conservancy is drained through the Maduni and Lama sluices. The water then flows into the Mahaica creek. This has caused catastrophic flooding in the Mahaica and Mahaicony areas in three of the last four years.

In an attempt to counteract this problem, the government is proposing that a relief channel be constructed from the EDWC to the Atlantic Ocean through the Hope/ Dochfour area on the East Coast of Demerara. This is an option that had been recommended since the Great Flood in 2005.

However, recently several persons, including engineers and farmers, have been questioning the wisdom of such a canal, arguing that there were better and cheaper ways of solving the problem.

When these points were raised with Minister of Agriculture Robert Persaud, he told this newspaper that the exact structure of this relief channel has not been confirmed as yet and that the best engineering decision will be made concerning this outlet. Persaud said that his ministry will not be dismissive of any ideas coming from experienced engineers but emphasized that the best technical decision will be made. He said that the project has gone out for tender and consequently this means that it has been opened to all those persons who feel that they have something worthwhile to contribute.

When Stabroek News contacted President of the Guyana Association of Professional Engineers (GAPE), Melvin Sankies for comment, he said that it is imperative that advice from older engineers be sought. Sankies said that the older engineers have both knowledge and experience and consequently can be useful to the younger engineers who may be tasked with the project.

Meanwhile, this newspaper was reliably informed that an experienced local engineer has been tasked by the government to review the proposals on the project and to advise accordingly.

In a letter published in the January 13 edition of the Stabroek News, engineer Malcolm Alli argued that the proposed canal was not the best option to drain the conservancy. Alli played a significant role in the MMA scheme as well as designed and supervised the construction of the 7-door Abary Control Sluice, and has many years of experience as an engineer. According to him, extensive studies carried out by the Hydraulics Division during the 1960s determined that the Land of Canaan (LOC) sluice on the East Bank was the best location and option to drain the conservancy.

The studies by the Hydraulics Division determined that an Atlantic relief would likely be subject to some tidal lock which would be undesirable for a spillway operation. According to Alli, the discharge sluice at the sea wall end could only work on a tidal basis six hours a day discharging a small amount of water daily.

The sluice at Land of Canaan is a 5-door high sill sluice that was built in the 1960s. And according to Alli, it was built specifically to drain the EDWC. He explained that the sluice can discharge 2000 cusecs of water when working on a 24-hour basis, independent of the tide.

Alli, however, asserted that the sluice at Land of Canaan is not working as it should and that specific work should be done to improve its capacity. This, he said, would be a cheaper way of solving the problem that the authorities had in dealing with draining the conservancy.
Similar thoughts were echoed by Project Director of the Guyana Citizen’s Initiative (GCI), Dr Rupert Roopnaraine. When contacted by Stabroek News, Roopnaraine said that the authorities may be better advised to at least consider improving the outlets towards the Demerara River rather than investing so much money in what is clearly a very challenging undertaking. Previously, the GCI had called for the rehabilitation of the Cunha canal and outfall to aid in the conservancy’s drainage. And according to Roopnaraine, it would not hurt for the authorities to at least look at improving the sluice at Land of Canaan. He said that based on engineering advice he has received, releasing water from this end of the conservancy would greatly ease the strain on the side of the EDWC nearer to the Atlantic Ocean.

When Minister Persaud was asked about the Land of Canaan sluice, he said that the “jury was out as to whether the capacity of this sluice could be improved”. While saying that there were no immediate plans to work on this sluice, he did not rule out work being done in the future. He once more confirmed that efforts were being concentrated on the resuscitating of the Cunha outlet to the Demerara River, which he said was only operating at about 40% of its capacity and which obviously could be improved.

Persaud said the peculiar situation with the conservancy is that the water levels stored towards the Atlantic end of the conservancy were higher than the levels at the Demerara River end. Consequently, that was why work on the relief channel that drains into the Atlantic Ocean was being implemented. Observers say such a phenomenon might indicate blocked internal drainage channels or greater sedimentation in the northern section of the conservancy.

Meanwhile, Alli also said that the failure to maintain the 7-door Abary Control Sluice was another cause of the problems with draining the conservancy.

He said that a certain amount of water had to be released from the sluice daily so as to keep the Abary River alive, but this was never done. According to Alli due to the failure of water to be released, the Abary has become silted for about 45 miles. He also said that he does not believe that the sluice was functioning.

Technical advice
When the Agriculture Minister was asked about this sluice, he said that he had been advised by the MMA authorities that this sluice can be operational and can release water from the conservancy into the Abary creek. He said that he was told that during the low-tide that the sluice is opened.

The minister, however, hinted that this sluice is not working as it should and explained that he is waiting on the technical staff of the MMA to provide him with some more “technical advice” on the state of this sluice.

One farmer from the Abary area, in a letter published in this newspaper, said that the sluice has not been working for more than twelve years. Persaud, however, stated that he was not in a position to confirm or dispute whether the sluice has not been properly functioning for such a lengthy period.

Meantime, Alli also opined that the conservancy has not been properly maintained, and consequently this has resulted in it reaching a critical stage of siltation and vegetation inhibiting its storage capacity.

During a recent tour of the EDWC by media personnel, Secretary of the EDWC Board, Stephen La Fleur said that over the years several of the conservancy channels had been blocked up by vegetation and silt and that work had been and continues to be done to clear some of these channels.

Alli also argued that to facilitate this new relief channel may cost more than the $3B budgeted since considering the magnitude of the project. According to him, the proposed works for the relief channel will be extensive since the canal has to be a high level canal with some 80 ft bed width and about 10 miles long.

Further, it would require the construction of two large sluices in addition to several bridges over the canal, a bridge at the roadway, access roads and more.

President Jagdeo has announced that money has already been budgeted to get the project started by June/July but said that he is currently in negotiations to secure part funding for the project. If all goes according to plan, the proposed date for the completion of the channel is June 2010.

However, another letter writer Charles Sohan suggested that the proposed deadline was overly ambitious, especially when the amount of work required is considered. In his letter, he said that “based on the requirements for data collection, design and construction…it is inconceivable that this project could start in June 2009 and be completed by June 2010. He added that “given the size and complexity of this project (the Hope Relief Channel) it is unlikely that it could be completed and functional in under three years”.

Sohan also questioned how the sum of $3B (US$15M) that has been budgeted was determined. He said that “it was mind boggling as to how this figure was arrived at, since no design, bill of quantities and costing have been prepared for this project.”

The proposed Hope Canal is not the best option to drain the conservancy.

Stabroek News letter, 13 January 2009. The proposed Hope Canal is not the best option to drain the conservancy.

Dear Editor,
I refer to the President’s recent announcement to construct the Hope Canal to prevent water being released from the EDWC to the Mahaica Creek that causes flooding to the residents.

Extensive studies in the ’60s were carried out by the Hydraulics Division to determine the best location to drain the EDWC and it was determined that the Land of Canaan Sluice (LOC) was the best location and option since an Atlantic relief would likely be subject to some tidal lock which be undesirable for a spillway operation, ie the discharge sluice at the sea wall end could only work on a tidal basis some 6 hours a day discharging a pittance daily.

The LOC, built in the ’60s, is a 5-door high sill sluice, and can discharge 2000 cusecs working on a 24-hour basis independent of the tide, and was built specially to drain the EDWC. Since 1970 the conservancy has not been maintained, and today has reached a critical stage of siltation and vegetation inhibiting its storage capacity.

The proposed works related to the Hope Canal would be extensive. The canal has to be a high level canal with some 80 ft bed width, some 10 miles long - not 6 miles according to the President – and would require the construction of 2 large sluices at the EDWC and through the existing sea defences, several bridges over the canal, a bridge at the roadway, access roads, etc. The canal and outlet has to be designed to discharge at least 2000 cusecs.

I doubt very much whether the inlet sluice at the conservancy can provide 2000 cusecs from the EDWC at the moment, due to its silted state. Extensive modelling and dredging works have to be carried out to obtain the 2000 cusecs required from the EDWC.

The cost in my opinion would far exceed the $3B quoted by the President. I doubt whether Guyana has the local engineering expertise to design and construct such a project.

I would suggest the government as a cheaper alternative improve the capacity of the LOC which is only operating around 40% efficiency, by redesigning and re-constructing the inlet channel and canal inlet and also awaiting the studies and modelling works to be undertaken shortly for the EDWC (reference an article in GC, 11.1.09) and then and carry out the works recommended by the consultants if feasible.
The release of water from the EDWC via the Maduni and Lama sluices cannot cause the flooding in the Mahaicony/Abary areas, only in the Mahaica area.

I started the MMA scheme and designed and supervised the construction of the 7-door Abary Control Sluice. Information was passed on to the authority that the sluice must release a certain amount of water daily so as to keep the Abary River alive. This was how the scheme was designed. Water to this date some 30 years later still has not been released, resulting in the Abary becoming so silted for some 45 miles from the conservancy to its mouth, that it would be impossible to dredge it to bring it back alive. The sluice also appears to be non functional.

Over the last few years the writer wrote several letters about this problem only to be responded to by the authority that the river was alive and free flowing with water.

The bottom line is the Abary River cannot carry its share of the drainage load and hence the water has nowhere to go but to the Mahaicony, resulting in constant flooding whenever there is heavy rainfall.
Continuation of the scheme as proposed by the President would not prevent this from happening, and could make matters worse by silting the Mahaicony as well if the second stage is similarly maintained as the first.
Yours faithfully,
Malcolm Alli
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The Hope Canal could worsen the conservancy problem, not improve it.

Stabroek News letter, 07 February 2009. The Hope Canal could worsen the conservancy problem, not improve it.

Dear Editor,

Reference is made to Mr R Seegobin’s letter in SN dated February 3, (‘The model and risk analysis are everything to the Hope Canal project’) which identifies the essential parameters for hydrological modelling of the EDWC to determine the proposed additional capacity of the conservancy flood relief as well as where to locate the canal.

We are not sure if the writer has actually worked with reservoir modelling for low-level lands. Modelling for multiple outlets into tidal and non-tidal areas is not simple. Although many of the parameters could be gathered from old maps and existing data if they can still be found, a lot of new surveys will have to be undertaken. A key parameter is the storage-elevation curve of the conservancy, which must be revised to account for sedimentation over the last 100 years and fix the various capacity limits of its volume.

An old capacity curve from 1950 was used by the Hydraulics Division in the 1970s, but this needs to be thoroughly revised. Hydrographic surveys as well as a Lidar survey of the catchment areas above water will also have to be done.

Not much is mentioned about his risk analysis details, an exercise which has rarely (if ever) been used in Guyana. A lot of dam safety protocols have to be included in this, but where is the dam safety analysis for this aging liability? Management of this conservancy is also essential in any flood hazard reduction measures, and nothing has really been achieved in this sector to establish rule curves on supply and demand of water. No one has a grasp on how much water is really needed for this conservancy and what its inter-year distribution is. Can its full supply level be reduced substantially year round? Has the conservancy ever been annually cleaned of all weeds and silt to facilitate east-west water passage?

The condition of the reservoir must be a realistic input to the model since it impacts on output.

In addition to hydraulic modelling of the conservancy there must be hydraulic analysis of the water conveyance works throughout the conservancy to the river and the sea. Some hydrologic models can handle channel routing in their routines, but the conservancy in the coastal plain cannot be modelled in sufficient detail using nodes and storage points. The complementary hydraulic analysis of the system is the key to a search for the least-cost solution to the flooding problem. Substantial surveys have to be undertaken to establish the variables needed to design any improvement works. Surprisingly, work has yet to be completed to establish the hydraulic capacity of the existing Land of Canaan (LOC) canal and its conservancy supply. This may be a bit complicated for local engineers and most of it should have been done since the problem started.

The UN in 2006 made some excellent recommendations about measures needed to decrease the hazard level of the conservancy for the short, medium and long terms, but implementation progress in this area has been dismal.

Pictures of the conservancy dam show a badly deteriorated eastern section of the dam compared to the 1970s. Successive government engineering interventions since the 1990s have apparently aggravated the dam condition. In short, these so called improvements have been based on poor engineering judgement and are now liabilities. No new information has really been collected about the physical characteristics of the reservoir, despite all the problems encountered to date. The hydraulic capacity of the burrow trench, the nature of any internal cross dams and the capacity of the relief outlets have not been firmly established.

The Minister of Agriculture has decided that the Hope Canal is the best option for additional relief, but perhaps he ought to be cautious about his decision and the technical advice on which it is based. High water problems in the sector can be caused by several factors, but generally if the burrow trench and surface weeds are cleared then internal water slopes can be very shallow. If he thinks this should be a solution then see what will happen when the government tries to tack on the Mahaicony conservancy to the Abary conservancy and then discharge the total spill flows of both into the Berbice River.

A relief canal to the Atlantic is not without problems and liability. How much pegasse is in the land between the conservancy and the crown dams as well as Hope Estate, and can it support a large canal? This will have to be a ‘fill’ canal since land levels along the canal alignment are as low as 52.00 GD. Once such a canal is built then its embankments become an extension of the conservancy dam. One of the authors worked in the then British Guiana during construction of the Land of Canaan sluice and questioned the technical soundness and safety of constructing a 2000 cusecs relief structure through the existing conservancy dam in the Hope area. Few Guyanese would remember the Bonasika sluice fiasco of the Boeraserie conservancy. Hydraulic losses along the Hope canal route will have to be accounted for and include friction losses and head losses at the intake structure, a bridge at the public road and the outlet structure through the sea defences. Their sum amounts to the total head that will drive the canal flow. The objective is to make sure that the relief canal at the sea is independent of high tides and its discharge is 24 hours per day like the LOC. If the Hope Canal has to work with even a short tide lock period (where spring tides are higher than the canal tail water level) then this will become a white elephant.

A quick estimate by the authors indicates that with a 65 ft canal bottom and a conservancy flood level of 58.00 GD after deducting all losses, the water level at the outlet could be 54.50 GD and this could require some tidal closure.

Our point is that a decision for a Hope Canal outlet instead of adopting a holistic approach and analysis, can worsen the conservancy problem instead of improving it, especially after spending some $3B plus.

Yours faithfully,
Malcolm Alli
Mike Ragwen

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Supporting our claim about weak governance

Supporting our claim about weak governance
February 7, 2009 | By knews | Filed Under Letters

Dear Editor,
While the Guyana Human Rights Association (GHRA) does not expect the Government of Guyana to be enthused by our pointing out the governance short-comings that caused the prolongation of recent floods, a more constructive response would have been appropriate.

Rather than challenge the failings we pointed out or take issue with the recommendations, Dr. Roger Luncheon, Head of the Presidential Secretariat chose to make sweeping attacks on the credibility of the GHRA, calling the statement “grossly inaccurate”. Indeed the only specific his statement refers to is that we referred to the National Emergency Organising ‘Committee’ as a ‘Council’.

While the GHRA’s interest lies in promoting discussion of its seven proposals to strengthen governance, Dr. Luncheon has obliged us to provide some of the specifics which establish the validity of our claim about weak governance. Since they are already in the public domain we list them in summary form.
The state of unpreparedness of the CDC for weeks after the flood occurred is well established.

Senior political figures rather than disaster relief and technical agencies determined the course of the flood response.
Insufficient warning to farmers in the Mahaica and Mahaicony Creeks of the intention to open the Maduni/Lama locks prevented them taking remedial actions.

The continued presence of illegal structures from the Greenfield reserve hampered de-silting operations.
Illegal structures on reserve lands threaten efficient drainage all over the coastal areas – witness Montrose last Easter from which no lessons seem to be learnt.

Efforts to remove the fishermen from the Greenfield koker outfall simply petered out when they refused to cooperate.

The koker at the head of the Ann’s Grove access road, renovated at the cost of $6 million, is a white elephant.

Many secondary D&I contracts have been awarded to groups and individuals without reference to NDCs or even the RDC.

Since 2007, changes in the manner of collecting rates and rents have weakened villages’ control over their backlands.

The governance recommendations set out in the statement are summarized as follows:
1. Communities should be systematically involved in all important decisions that affect them.

2. Local knowledge on D&I issues is frequently superior to external expertise and should be recognised as such.

3. The Civil Defence Commission should be de-centralised and should report to Parliament.
4. Compensation for agricultural losses should be far more systematic than that signified by an allocation of G$100 million.

5. Presentation of meteorological information in a modern graphic, user-friendly fashion should be priority in times of flood-threats.
Executive Committee

Friday, February 6, 2009

Tough new money laundering law to take force soon - President signals

Guyana Chronicle top story, Friday 06 February 2009
Tough new money laundering law to take force soon
- President signals
By Sharief Khan

PRESIDENT Bharrat Jagdeo yesterday signalled he is intent on pushing the
country's tough new law against money laundering to plug loopholes exploited
particularly by those who have illegally acquired huge assets.
He said the new act is before Parliament and he has told Finance Minister,
Dr Ashni Singh, to wrap up the discussions at the level of the Select
Committee and have the law passed soon because it has been there too long.
"We found the older law has some loopholes, especially in terms of seizure
of assets, and we are plugging those holes through the new act", Mr. Jagdeo
said at a press conference at his official State House residence.
Money laundering is the practice of engaging in finance/financial
transactions in order to conceal the identity, source, and/or destination of
illegally gained money, and is a main operation of the underground economy
around the world.
The issue of seizing assets garnered through the narcotics trade here
surfaced with the high-profile interception in Canada and the Caribbean in
December of cocaine shipments from Guyana.
Collaboration between the local Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit (CANU), police
and army and American, British and Canadian agencies has led to the
unravelling of narcotics trafficking networks based here and the Guyana
Revenue Authority is looking into assets drug barons may have acquired
through money laundering and other means, officials said.
Mr. Jagdeo yesterday raised the delay in enacting the new tough anti-money
laundering law while noting that Guyana's financial system is in good
He said the International Monetary Fund found, through intrusive inspection,
that Guyana's financial sector is in good health.
"We're not perfect but our financial system is essentially in good shape",
he reported.
He said that in his meetings on coping with the international financial
meltdown which is worsening, he has been arguing for a global governance
Guyana, he stressed, will not be spared the consequences of the crisis,
particularly in the real sector, as global demand dries up on some
"We need a global governance structure to make sure we have global financial
stability because national regulatory structures, as strong as they may,
cannot effectively deliver global financial stability because there is so
much cross-border transaction that needs to be captured, measured and
reported on..."
"We are still open to this...we are examining the situation", he said.
The President, who was at the annual World Economic Forum in Davos,
Switzerland last week, said the talks focused broadly on two areas of
significant concern to Guyana - climate change; and the global financial
crisis and how to exit this crisis with the minimum of consequences for the
peoples of the world.
He noted that many world leaders are excessively focused on the domestic
issue of job creation and getting their economies going because of the
severe impact of the crisis.
He pointed out that soaring employment in many developed countries is
leading to protests against foreign workers and that "a healthy dose of
xenophobia is developing" in the developed world.
"Many of the countries are seemingly going down the path of protectionism
although they used to lecture the world about the benefits of open trade and
free trade. When they are faced with problems, they want to shut the door to
free, multilateral trade and foreign workers", he said.
He said that in Davos, he wanted to shift the focus "about how we're going
to get out of this crisis", adding that all agreed there that it will get
significantly worse before it gets better and it's already bad.
Mr. Jagdeo said many people agreed in principle that the situation warrants
a combination of collective efforts around the world and national stimulus
packages combined with monetary policy, and a loosening up of liquidity in
the system to get out of this crisis.
"This was a very healthy debate and the benefit of Davos was that many of
the policymakers got together, shared experiences and (what's needed now) is
coordinated action by many countries to overcome the impact of the crisis,
to bolster global demand" which can mean increasing production, he said.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Full-time MPs

Kaieteur News editorial, Tuesday 03 February 2009

Full-time MPs

Last Friday, in a speech at a function organised by the Guyana Manufacturing
and Services Association Ltd (GMSA), the Speaker of the National Assembly,
Mr Harinarayan (Ralph) Ramkarran, suggested that the time has come for
Guyana to consider having full-time Members of Parliament (MPs).
Dealing with the specific topic, 'The National Assembly as a facilitator and
promoter of investment and business activities in Guyana', he argued that,
"The establishment of strong and independent relationships between business
organisations and Parliamentary committees is proper and desirable, as it is
the duty of all stakeholders on both sides to seek out opinions and to offer
He proposed that the vehicle for the dialogue between the business and
political communities may be the Economic Services Committee.
Mr Ramkarran was, of course, alluding to one of the four sectoral committees
in Parliament that had been established to enable the Legislative branch to
"scrutinize" the activities of the Executive. The others are the Natural
Resources, Social Services and Foreign Affairs Committees.
Their mandate spanned the gamut of governmental initiative, and had been the
result of great struggle in the effort to enlarge the democratic process in
The Opposition had long complained that they were locked out from the
day-to-day workings of governance, and were thus reduced to playing, at
best, an auditing role in the Public Accounts Committee, and at worst,
making noises in the National Assembly during debates that inevitably
amounted to naught, as the Government always had the numbers to carry the
argument and the day.
In the Sectoral Committees, while the Government still retained 5-4
majorities, the Chairs are rotated annually between the Government and the
Opposition. This was not an inconsiderable gain for the Opposition in
ensuring that matters of its concern were placed on the agenda - and also
fairly ventilated.
The smaller number of members in the Committees also fostered a more
collegial atmosphere that eschewed the endemic compulsion for grandstanding
present in the Parliamentary debates.
With the authority to invite any member of the Government - and even state
institutions such as the police - to present testimony on issues before
them, combined with its power to hire experts to advise them, the Sectoral
Committees were indeed potentially powerful tools to deepen democracy and
accountability in our land.
So why have we not seen more results from this initiative? The Speaker
pointed to two constraints in his presentation: the need for "larger and
better trained staff" and "full-time Members of Parliament (MPs)". On the
latter, he was unequivocal that it "must be on the agenda, if Parliamentary
oversight, which is being increasingly seen as the key to the development of
accountability, is to be effective."
We agree. To continue with the present system is not only to ensure that its
encounters with civil organisations, such as the GMSA, are spasmodic and
inevitably desultory, and to deepen the prevalent sentiment in the wider
society that Parliament is just an empty "talk shop".
Most members of the public are unaware that the salaries of the MPs, who are
grandiosely trumpeted as representing their views in the "highest forum in
the land" and "the highest lawmaking body," are just a token stipend because
they are supposed to be just "part timers".
Maybe this might have been the case when all MPs had to do was show up at
the thirty or so annual sittings that had become the norm in the past. But
with the increased utilisation of the committee system - not just the four
sectoral ones, but the myriad standing committees such as Constitutional
Reform, and special committees to review contentious legislation etc., the
demands on part-timers are just too onerous: even with the nominal "top-up"
that committee members receive.
The Speaker recognised the funding constraints that bedevil this and any
administration, and suggested that we may begin by hiring full-time MPs for
the chairs and deputy chairs of the sectoral committees and possibly the
Public Accounts Committee.
We respectfully suggest that we should bite the bullet and make all MPs
full-timers. Because there are at present enough committees in Parliament to
occupy every MP, the gain to better governance will be immeasurable as we
develop experts in every field of national endeavour, as is evident, for
instance, in the US Congressional Committee system.
We take our hats off to the Speaker for raising this issue.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Accountability across the board

Accountability across the board

Posted By Staff On February 2, 2009 @ 5:01 am In Editorial | 4 Comments

As the Sunday Stabroek editorial of January 25th noted, President Jagdeo’s ultimatum on January 19th that MPs deliver up returns to the Integrity Commission in two weeks was quite puzzling and as time ticks by it seems it was a fit of pique prompted by the PNCR’s jibe that a forensic scrutiny of finances should apply not only to customs officers.

Whatever his motivation, President Jagdeo was clearly out of order and his administration is now attempting to retrieve the situation aided by responsible and mature responses by the Parliamentary opposition.

Let us be crystal clear here. The entire country wants to see accountability to the highest degree but it wants to see it across the board and relative to every single public official. It dosen’t want President Jagdeo to cherry-pick which of the public officials should be held accountable.

If President Jagdeo’s demarche on the MPs was to have credibility the net should have been cast far wider. The President could have said that in light of the PNCR’s call he would enquire from the Integrity Commission whether each and every one of the public officers falling under its jurisdiction including the opposition MPs had filed their respective returns and if they weren’t he would urge the Commission to take the necessary steps. Even that would have been too heavy-handed as this commission is intended to function independently of any direction but at least the public would have been more sympathetic.

The more telling point is that if the Integrity Commission had been functioning there would have been no need for President Jagdeo to even trouble himself with this ill-considered ultimatum. The Commission would have been receiving reams of returns, would have been convening inquiries of various types and would have been tendering the relevant reports to the Office of the President so that President Jagdeo would have been well aware of the extent of compliance.

Clause 19 of the Act says that where a person within the ambit of the Act fails to file a declaration or to furnish particulars, the Commission or the President as the case may be shall publish the fact in the Official Gazette and in a daily newspaper. In the 11 years that the Commission has been in existence it is unclear if this has ever been done. It is a remarkable record. Dozens of public officials have apparently complied scrupulously with the tenets of the legislation. It is more likely the case that public officials have paid very little attention to the Commission and that in its state of suspended animation the Commission has not bothered to fuss over it.

Under Clause 22, defaulters are liable to prosecution but there is no evidence that the necessary processes have been pursued for charges to be brought. Remarkable indeed.

Clause 30 permits the Commission on the receipt of compelling complaints from members of the public to initiate public sittings to hear arguments. None has been convened as far as we can tell.

Because we are a society filled with persons prone to offering inducements, Clause 32 sets out what public officials must do in relation to gifts they receive. The Commission has the authority to order that gifts deemed to be inducements be delivered to the minister with responsibility for finance. Again there is no evidence of this and if the Commission had been functioning energetically the President would have been in possession of the various reports.

But that has not been the case and the person who has to be blamed for it is President Jagdeo. The Commission was simply not operating at an adequate level. The Chairman, Bishop George, had tendered his resignation two years ago. How could this small body properly function without a Chairman? Any why did the President not attempt to find a new candidate in the last two years? Clause 5 (2) of the Integrity Commission Act says simply that “The Chairman or any other member may resign by letter addressed to the President”. Matter finished. Whether the Chairman had been bullied out of the position as President Jagdeo contended is immaterial. President Jagdeo’s obligation was to get cracking on finding a replacement.
Interestingly consultations have suddenly been held between PM Hinds, performing the functions of President, and the Opposition Leader Mr Corbin on two new candidates. This consultation with the Opposition Leader should have been done a long time ago and might have rendered unnecessary the long-delayed case that was brought by the PNCR against the old Integrity Commission.

One wonders though whether this consultation is adequate and would be immune to legal challenges in the future as it was not held by President Jagdeo. Whatever the outcome, we hope that the appointments of the new members of the Commission will comply with the requirements set out in the Act. The only other reservation would be why go through this exercise if there is to be a total revamping of the Commission in line with the Bradford report as pointed out by the AFC. Is this report another example of the wasteful consultancies funded by multilateral institutions that the government still indulges and then criticizes conveniently? Before the recomposing of the Commission is finalized the government and Parliament need to be very clear about the Bradford Report and what has been agreed.

And we shouldn’t stop at the Integrity Commission. The President has a knack for making the right noises about some accountability mechanisms while ignoring others or working against them. In the middle of the dolphin export scam, this administration hounded out from office the best Auditor General the country had seen in a while so that it could prevent any embarrassing disclosures about this case. Why the Presidential advisor who was ensnared in the dolphin business was not immediately banished from any role in public life remains unclear.

Further, the ruling party has stood in the way of the appointment of the critical Public Procurement Commission which is intended to oversee the channelling of contracts worth billions of dollars through the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board. Why has this government been so cavalier about this?

Are the President and his government interested in exposing and prosecuting the networks of drug dealers that have given this country a notorious image for sending cocaine abroad in all manner of items? If so why then has the anti-money laundering legislation never been used and why has the Financial Intelligence Unit not functioned robustly?
Is the President really interested in probing the rampage of the death squads and the people who financed them? Is he interested in holding his government fully accountable for what happened during this period?

Finally, the most productive way to ensure transparency across the board is to empower the average citizen to police their governors and public officials. Is President Jagdeo now prepared to support the straight-forward but effective Freedom of Information legislation that has been lying in Parliament for too long or will his acolytes barefacedly tell the House that the country is not ready for it as they did on the recent motion for live, unedited broadcasts of Parliamentary proceedings?

If the President is serious about ensuring accountability and transparency in this country there are myriad areas for him to act and to act decisively.

There are grave inconsistencies in Govt.’s view of the operations of GuySuCo

There are grave inconsistencies in Govt.’s view of the operations of GuySuCo
February 2, 2009 | By knews | Filed Under Letters

Dear Editor,

I refer to the letter from Donald Ramotar captioned “Guysuco will rebound”, and Ravi Dev’s article, “Sugar and Trust”, both of which were featured in Kaieteur News edition of 1st February 2009.

I would first like to record my appreciation of Ramotar’s impeccable integrity as a politician — a rather rare quality among some local politicians. However, I have difficulty in accepting Ramotar’s statement as carried in his letter that, “I know that the corporation has been accused of having massive corruption, but I have not seen any evidence of the kind of corruption being spoken about. GuySuCo’s accounts are audited annually. The audits have been done by some of the top accounting firms in the country. At no time did any of those audits show massive corruption in the corporation.”

When Ramotar’s statement is juxtaposed to what was said by the Minister of Agriculture at the press conference at the Office of the President on 14th January 2009, it amounts to grave inconsistencies. In the Minister’s statement that was carried in the SN, “Sugar shake-up”, on 15th February, he stated that: “Commenting on corruption in the industry the internal audits have pointed to practices of malfeasance and corruption. “… just talk to people on the ground and you will hear the most horrid stories.” Ramotar would need the Honourable Minister to share with him the audited reports that expose those practices of malfeasance and corruption, and to endeavour, as a member of the board, to spend more time “on the ground” to hear the same “horrid stories” of corruption as the Minister did. The nation therefore looks forward to the stance of the board of directors on those cases of “corruption and malfeasance” that are in the privileged possession of the Minister.

Secondly, Ramotar spoke about the establishment of an agriculture audit unit that picks up on issues of agriculture and report on them. This is quite a commendable decision by this board to establish such a unit; because, as an agriculture-based entity, proper checks and balances on the various operations ought to be an operational imperative. On the other hand, the Government, having recognised that the East Demerara Estates were performing miserably, appointed a commission of enquiry to investigate the causes behind such decline.

The commission having completed its investigation, it’s quite unfortunate that no pronouncement has yet been made, either by the company or the Government, on the report of the commission. I do recall sometime ago the chairman of the commission, Vic Oudit, disclosing to the media that mismanagement and lack of attention to the cultivation are the main reasons for the decline of the estates. If the company has failed to act on the report of a government-appointed commission of enquiry, would it, or the board, for that matter, act on the findings of the internal agricultural audit unit?

I wish to commend Ravi Dev on his article that’s very incisive and analytical on the marketing of sugar by GuySuCo, and for his mature and loyal stance by advocating that “the sugar industry is our national patrimony and we can ill afford to try to score political points in this hour of its crisis. We invite all political and civil groupings to get behind the new GuySuCo team as it is assembled.” Indubitably, the sugar company is at a cross road; its very existence is being threatened, and quite undoubtedly, it’s in this poor state at this time not only because of unfavourable weather conditions and strikes, but due also in some significant measure to poor leadership and management by Booker Tate. I agree with Dev that, in the current circumstance, if GuySuCo is to “rebound”, there cannot be room for political grandstanding and hubris.

I think management and the board need to take Dev’s views on the functions, or dysfunctional aspects, of the company’s marketing department on board. Like Dev and other commentators, I also believe that either some form of “malfeasance” is involved by GuySuCo, or it hasn’t done careful planning that caused the unfortunate and rather shameful decision to import sugar from Guatemala for local consumption.

Ramotar has certainly aroused the motivational instincts of the local managers when he admirably stated that he “believe that the vast majority of those people that I came into contact with are people of integrity and a hard working and dedicated group. The local managers are very capable, and all Guyanese should be proud of such a committed group.” The new interim board needs to garner the support of the local managers if its “turn around plan” is to be successful.

Finally, I wish to applaud the unequivocal optimism displayed by both Ramotar and Dev that the sugar industry would remain, and the immediate panacea for its survival, as Dev so eloquently says, is “the time for politics as usual is over”. Ramotar, Dev and other key stakeholders, therefore, would have to be on the same side of the divide for the sake of the survival of the sugar industry.

Parsuram Persaud


New York, USA