We the innocent, led by the unknown, are doing the impossible for the ungrateful!
We have done so much with so little, so we are now qualified to do anything with nothing!
Sunday, October 3, 2010
Amaila Falls road contractor responds to critics of the project.
-but media negativity could deter investors
INITIAL Amaila Falls developer and current access road contractor Synergy Holdings has broken its silence on the award of its contract, with its President, Mr. Makeshwar ‘Fip’ Motilall saying it is time people stop being negative about the US$450 million project, or else “we would be burning oil in 2100.” In a recent television interview, Motilall was asked why he chose to remain silent in the face of criticism. To this he responded saying that he felt “a little betrayed” by Guyanese. “I felt I put a lot of time and personal effort into it to develop a project that would make Guyana a better place. But I chose not to respond because it was a lot of this ‘he said, you said, dem boys seh’, and we don’t really want to get into that. I feel that if I do what I am doing and I have done -- ensure the development, build the road, and meet the schedule and make it the quality needed -- and ultimately when the hydro comes, somebody somewhere along the road will say, ‘you know, that guy is doing probably what we should have done, and we shouldn’t have given him a hard time,’” Motilall said. “I am not looking for sympathy, but I think that the Guyanese people know that you cannot attract the kind of dollars we need by the kind of negative things we have been saying. We really need to be positive about this. We are a small country, we are trying to build big projects, and this is the largest, dollar-wise, of any project in Guyana, so we shouldn’t be sitting there and criticising ...The foreign investors that are coming in because they are bringing dollars to us, and we need it. Without that, we would be burning oil in 2100,” he said. Explaining where the company is at this point in time in terms of readiness, Motilall said: “We have brought in 28 pieces of equipment -- excavators, bulldozers, front-end loaders. Those are all in the country right now. We used some of the equipment for surveys on the ground, and at this point, we’re ready to start building.” Motilall said that teams have visited the area to look at the alignment of the possible places to locate a river across the Kuribrong River. He said that as a bidder, with the ultimate aim of wanting the hydro to be built faster, Synergy’s proposal included a steel bridge for the crossing of the Kuribrong River. He said a barge-crossing would mean that equipment would have to wait for a barge to cross the river, thereby slowing down the process. But the crossing of the Essequibo River, which must be made first, will be done by barge. He said that this would be a dedicated barge-crossing to be at the beck-and-call of the Amaila contractor. On plans to locate the road, he said: “We have to also find how we will minimise the impact on the forest. As you know, we are going through some virgin territory.” He added that it might be decided to build the road along the same line as the transmission line, but this may not necessarily be the best option. Asked why he felt Synergy won the contract for constructing the road, Motilall said he can think of several reasons. “Unlike what most people would like to believe, I think that we’re the most qualified, from the standpoint that we know the terrain, probably better than anybody else. I have been working on the ‘hydro’ project itself for over 12 years, so I have traversed this area quite a bit; both myself and my team,” he said. Another reason for his company’s selection was its low bid-price, “mainly because we wanted to make sure that we were building a solid road for the Amaila Falls Hydro-project.” Motilall said he did not want to necessarily look at it as making a profit, but making sure that the larger project, the Amaila Falls Hydro, is built properly. Asked about his company’s credibility where road building is concerned, Motilall said that Synergy has been building roads for several years now in Florida and Georgia, American States. “What we are building here is no different; it’s just a little larger in size, and one road as against a network of roads,” he said. He said the company has its in-house engineers, and these personnel will be coming from Florida to Guyana to work on the project. Asked whether the road can be completed in the allotted time, Motilall said the contract specifies eight months, and this is what Synergy will be working to achieve. He said that although realistically, a project such as this needs 18 months to be completed, with proper coordination, it can be done in eight months. He said further that there are significant challenges if the project is not completed within the stipulated time. According to Motilall, it is a mix of old and new roads, as the project sought to minimise the impact on forests as much as possible. He said the biggest challenge to the project is the logistics. “Keeping the people fed, and the engines fed ... keeping them operational, the sheer number of gallons of fuel that we keep running up for this process is astounding.” As to when things will get started, Motilall said the road construction will start in approximately two weeks. “We are awaiting what is called Construction Notice to Proceed. In April of this year, we were given Notice to Proceed, which allowed us to do ground shooting, surveying ...But we are on hold, waiting for Construction Notice to Proceed, and a host of other permits that must come from the Ministry of Public Works,” he said, adding that the road works should have started two months ago. Motilall explained that the ‘hydro’ project is a private development, and that the Guyanese taxpayer is not footing the bill. He said that Sithe Global is putting all the equity, and that the majority of the funds are coming from loans, which he explained are non-recourse, meaning that if the loans are defaulted on, the Guyana Government is not at risk. “If we don’t deliver power to Georgetown, GPL does not pay,” he said. The Government and the developer have agreed that GPL will purchase the power from the project and then resell it to consumers.