Guyana Diary

December 2008

Monthly Newsletter of the Guyana Embassy, Caracas, Venezuela

Quinta Roraima, Prados del Este, Caracas 1050, Venezuela
Telephone: 58-212-977-1158; 58-212-975-3687
Fax: (58) 212 976-3765

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Posted December 2008 - Issue No. 59 - Back to Embassy page

Previous Guyana Diaries are available here.

China advance alumina smelter plans

The Guyana Government and China’s Bosai Minerals Group on November 26 advanced plans for building an alumina smelter in Guyana that may cost up to US$1 billion.

But at the signing of an agreement in Georgetown which kept the planned project on stream, both sides were cautious about scheduled timelines amid the current swirling global financial crisis which could impact on remaining aspects of the feasibility study, including logistics.

President Bharrat Jagdeo thanked Bosai for being “very resilient” and staying with the plans in the face of the current international economic crisis, noting it would have to maintain this resilience in the years ahead.

The smelter is planned for Linden and Prime Minister Sam Hinds, who has Cabinet responsibility for the mining sector, has said that Bosai has been looking at building a smelter with an annual output of one million tones in one stage.

Bosai originally saw construction starting by mid-2009 and running to about three years for completion. Start-up has now been set at end 2009 while the feasibility study, estimated to cost US$1 million, should stretch to mid-2009.

Bosai’s output of calcined bauxite from its mines in Linden has been rising since last year and Managing Director, Mr. Yuan Zhilun, said the firm is looking to get this up to 450,000 tons annually.

Berbice Bridge to be opened by December 23

Many Guyanese will have their dream of a bridge across the Berbice River fulfilled when the 1.5-kilometre long structure stretching from D' Edward village on the western end to Crab Island on the east, becomes operational on December 23.

The Board of Directors of the Berbice Bridge Company Incorporated (BBCI) made this announcement on November 20 during a press conference at the bridge site.

BBCI's Chairperson, Geeta Singh-Knight, said that it will initially be opened to light weight vehicles because miscellaneous works will still be ongoing.

The company said that a toll structure has been prepared and will be presented to President Bharrat Jagdeo for his approval, after which it will be published. Toll fees will be paid on the D' Edward side of the bridge.

The bridge has a vehicle weight limit of 40 tons and heavy vehicles will be required to pay according to their weight.

The Chairperson noted that the toll is expected to be 5 to 10 percent higher than the existing fare charged by the Rosignol/New Amsterdam ferry, she said.

At present, contractors are working on the structure's retractor span, while scales are also being constructed at both ends. To date all 39 pontoons which serve as the base for the floating bridge have already been installed and the high span completed. The bridge's 70-metre retractor span will cater for large vessels plying the river, while the high span will allow smaller vessels up to 40 feet or 11.9 metres to pass under without affecting the flow of traffic.

Works on the 0.8 km access road on the western end and 3.5km on the eastern end are ongoing. The road on the eastern side is being constructed by the government through the existing mangrove swamp on Crab Island.

The project was awarded to the European consortium of Bosch Rexroth B.V. and Mabey and Johnson while materials for the construction were sourced from the United Kingdom, Holland, United States, Vietnam and China.

The completion of the GPS survey allowed for the contractors to establish a position for the bridge's alignment for the installation of the anchors below the river bed. Seventy eight of them have since been installed, while 35 spans are assembled and in position. These include the erection of west and east retractor spans which is 80 and 60 percent completed respectively. The bridge protection systems for the high retractor spans have also been installed.

The company reported that construction of the western abutment is complete while works on the eastern abutment is ongoing.

General buildings at D' Edward and Crab Island were constructed and connection of primary power by the Guyana Power and Light Company on the western side is already established. Electricity will be installed shortly on the eastern side.

Meanwhile, works on administrative buildings, sanitary facilities and toll plazas are ongoing. These are expected to be completed shortly.

The BBCI will operate the bridge for a period of 21 years, after which it will be transferred to government at no cost.

$1.75B deal between Guyanese and Venezuelan companies

The investment climate in Guyana has been boosted with signing on November 26 of a massive $1.75 billion deal between Caricom Bottling Inc. under the Safeco Group of Companies and a Venezuelan company, Mundial Maquinas C.A., for the installation of a brand new state-of-the-art bottling plant.

This deal will see the first phase of a $5 billion three-year investment getting under way for the completion of a bottling plant before April 2009, which will pave the way for the creation of some 250 jobs. Additionally, the initial stage of this project will see the setting up of a biscuit plant.

Chief Executive Officer for the Caricom Bottling Company Inc. and Chairman and CEO of Safeco Group of Companies, Dr. Joshua Safeek, said the investment was conceptualised with the company looking for different ways to invest within Guyana. He revealed that with the bottling plant, the company is looking at bottling four different brands – a multi-line of juices, soft drinks, water and beer.

During the course of this venture, the business is looking at the three-year expansion project which will result in two other plants in Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica.

Apart from the line of the bottling plant, the production of biscuits, crackers and cookies will be carried out at this plant.

Dr. Safeek stated one part of the plant will be set up in Linden, and the other within the immediate reach of the company. The second phase of the project is the expansion of a rum line with facilities in the Berbice area.

Guyana donates rice to Cuba

The Government of Guyana on November 6 showed its solidarity with the government and people of Cuba by donating 15,000 tonnes of white milled rice to the island republic.

Earlier this year, Cuba was hit by several hurricanes which severely affected some of the sectors of its economy.

Director General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Ms. Elisabeth Harper said that government took the decision to provide relief to the people of Cuba to help ameliorate the conditions in the country. In that regard, the government through the Guyana Rice Development Board donated the six containers of rice to be shipped to Cuba.

Charge d’Affaires of Cuba Mr. Pedro Artega expressed his gratitude on behalf of the people and Government of Cuba for Guyana’s support in their difficult period.

He noted that Guyana and Cuba established diplomatic relationships in 1972 and since then the countries have been providing support to each other. He said this latest effort was a reflection of Guyana’s solidarity.

Guyana’s rice industry ready for competition

“We are fully prepared to be proactive to make the necessary changes in our approach and structure so that this industry remains viable and competitive over the next 100 years.” This commitment was made by Minister of Agriculture, Mr. Robert Persaud, on November 11 at the opening of the historic Guyana’s International Rice Conference.

The two-day meeting was held at the Guyana International Conference Centre, Liliendaal, East Coast Demerara to mark Guyana’s 100th anniversary as a rice exporting country under the theme “Meeting Rice Market Demands”. It was hosted by the Guyana government in collaboration with the University of Guyana and the Guyana Rice Development Board.

Addressing the gathering which included President Bharrat Jagdeo, Jamaica Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Mr. Karl Samuda, government officials, members of the diplomatic corps, farmers, millers and exporters, the minister observed: “This Conference and the theme are indications that as a government and industry, we are not complacent about the future or content to rest on our laurels. We are also proud to recognise rice's role in Guyanese culture, development, and nation building over the past 100 years. . . .

“This is a milestone which we must not forget to celebrate, even as we do not shy away from the grappling of the hard questions and formulation of the even harder solutions which will define the growth and expansion of this industry for the years and generations to come.”

Capoey – a rapidly developing Amerindian community

Capoey, a small Arawak village of about 40 square kilometres, located on the Essequibo Coast, can be described as one of the rapidly developing Amerindian communities in Region 2 (Pomeroon/Supenaam) where advancement is constantly taking place.

With a population of approximately 380, Capoey’s main economic activity is logging, but farming and handicraft are also done and, like many other communities, it has over the years received significant assistance from the government.

“Capoey is a blessed place. . . . Over the past months we were able to get the President’s grant of $1 million; with that grant we were able to construct a multi-purpose centre and we also got a grant from the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs which was used to construct a village office,” Toshao, Valerie De Younge said.

The multi-purpose hall will soon be used to host youth activities and cultural shows and will also serve as a meeting point for villagers. The village office is equipped with a solar powered computer and a radio set for communication.

Through a Government of Guyana / Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) project aimed at promoting agro tourism, the community received 67 solar panels.

Agro-tourism, a relatively new concept in Guyana, encompasses agriculture-based products and services traditionally practiced in a country or designated environment, and which are linked to tourism.

Capoey is part of the tri-lake communities in Region Two, the other two being Mainstay/Whyaka and Tapacuma. It is accelerating its pace to capitalise on the lucrative opportunities in exploring and enhancing its agro tourism potential.

The tri-lake communities collectively have immense potential for organic pineapple production, cassava production, craft making, culinary arts and the development of a heritage trail. The heritage trail is seen as an excellent way of preserving the heritage of the Amerindian communities.

The community has to date benefited a lot from the tri-lake initiative. A new wharf was recently constructed in the community. Potable water is accessible and the community also has its own health post that receives a regular supply of medicine.

Community members place significant emphasis on education and the elders ensure that the children attend the area’s primary school every day. The school, which was constructed some years ago, has qualified teachers including one graduate teacher who has returned to serve her community.

Among the future plans for the village is the construction of a guest house to accommodate persons who are desirous of visiting the community and remaining overnight.

$40M water project commissioned at Moblissa

On November 16, Prime Minister Samuel Hinds, accompanied by Minister of Agriculture Robert Persaud commissioned the Moblissa Water Project during the first ever community celebration held at Moblissa.

Among those present were Chairman of Region Ten, Mortimer Mingo, representatives of the Moblissa Water Users Association (MWUA) and the Linden Economic Advancement Programme (LEAP).

The $40 million water project, supported by LEAP, comprises independent water systems: a well and above ground storage reservoir, solar-driven pumps and discharge taps. The system is designed for domestic and agricultural use.

The community which has a population of about 200, many of whom are dairy farming families, is located about 15 miles east of the Linden Highway. It was once a thriving dairy community and the government is determined to have this activity return.

Moblissa had its early stages of development in 1975 after the Livestock Development Company (LIDCO) began supporting its social, infrastructural and dairy industry development. Moblissa had the reputation of being a substantial source for milk in Guyana. This reputation was the result of the high quality of pasture in Moblissa where a particular grass was grown.

LIDCO managed the Moblissa Dairy Complex from 1975 to 2001. Unfortunately Moblissa lost its development momentum through the migration of its population. However in recent years, a resurgence through investment and resources input has revitalised the community. This became a reality through the development of roads, water and farmers’ assistance.

Signs of redevelopment in Moblissa are evident, according to Prime Minister Hinds, alluding to cattle and cash crops. He commended all those dedicated Moblissans who “stayed the course” despite the trying times, to redevelop the community.

Refurbishing Bartica airstrip

The Bartica airstrip located about five miles from the thriving Bartica community in Region Seven (Cuyuni/Mazaruni), the gateway into the interior, is currently being refurbished at no cost to the government.

The facility was hardly being used due to its deplorable state caused by heavy vehicles which used it to transport materials for construction sites in the Bartica area. In addition, motorists and cyclists used the strip as a race track, further compounding the problem.

The venture, valued $50 million, is being undertaken by B.K. Quarry, Teperu, a sizeable quarrying investment about two miles from the airstrip, and which is a subsidiary of B.K. International Inc.

The company is utilising aggregate, sand and stone from its quarry, along with 250 drums of bitumen to upgrade the airstrip; and upon completion, the airstrip would be 2000 feet long by 50 feet wide.

Additionally, the area will have an alternate road parallel to the airstrip so persons would not use the strip as a roadway. An administrative building with passenger waiting area, sanitary facilities and a canteen will also be constructed.

The company is also upgrading an access roadway into an all weather route-way, widening it by 10 feet and clearing the road shoulders of bushes.

The state of the airstrip has been of much concern to the more than 15,000 residents of Bartica, several businessmen included, as well as persons with vested mining interests in the hinterland.

Linden Technical Institute records improved performance

Technical vocational training continues to prove itself as a successful programme in the education sector as it has been able to empower several youths with employable skills.

This was evident when the 45th batch of students graduated on November 16 from the Linden Technical Institute (LTI) and was urged by Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport Dr Frank Anthony to continue on the educational path to achieve greater success.

The graduation ceremony which was held in the compound of LTI saw a total number of 88 students graduating successfully after completing the 2007-2008 programmes. These include secretarial and computer science, carpentry and joinery, electrical installation, radio and electronic servicing, telecommunications, international combustion engines, metal machining, mechanical fitting and welding.

The institution had much to celebrate as it achieved an average pass rate of 73 percent. This represents an increase of 25.6 percent from the previous year’s results.

Government commissions projects in Regions Eight, Nine

A number of projects were commissioned in Regions Eight (Potaro/Siparuni) and Nine (Upper Takutu/Upper Essequibo, by a Government delegation in mid-November.

The Regional Chairmen and Regional Executive Officers of Regions Eight and Nine, as well as other government officials were led by Coordinator of Hinterland Affairs, Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development, Mr. Harripersaud Nokta.

They held several community meetings at Kamana, Itaback, Kato, Monkey Mountain, Paramakatoi, Orinduik, Karasabai, Teperu and Copenang, where the discussions surrounded education and health matters and wells to supply potable water. They also heard complaints about incomplete school buildings and bridges.

A new school, a nurses’ hostel and a multi-purpose complex were commissioned at Karasabai while at Monkey Mountain the commissioning was at another multi-purpose complex and new primary school.

Teperu got a new school and education complex and the visitors inspected a bridge under construction over Echilibar River that will link Regions Eight and Nine.

Freedom Online introduces digital television, broadband services

Freedom Online introduced digital television and broadband services in Georgetown on November 21.

Managing Director, Mr. Navindra Narine said his business was incorporated in Guyana since 2002 as Broadband Inc. and has been delivering quality products and services also to many well established corporate offices locally.

Narine said the unique combination of diverse proficiency, education and real world experience has strategically placed Freedom Online as the front runner in wireless communication and entertainment services.

The installation service makes available such channels as Showtime, Cinemax, Starz, Movie, HBO, FOX, NBC, CBS, ABC, CNN, USA, Disney, National Geographic, Al Jazeera, Food Network, ESPN, Speed, VH1, MTV, Bloomberg, Lifetime, Sony and more at no extra cost.

The coverage area will include Georgetown; West Coast Demerara; Parika, East Bank Essequibo; East Coast Demerara to Mahaica and East Bank Demerara to Timehri.

Rehab work on Corentyne highway on schedule

Rehabilitation work on the Corentyne highway is continuing apace. On-going phased rehabilitation is being executed simultaneously by three contractors, Dipcon Engineering, B.K. International Inc. and K. Nauth Consortium, on the approximately 87 kilometres of the main thoroughfare.

Of the overall US$37M contract, Dipcon was awarded Phase One which stretches from New Amsterdam to Number 36, approximately 41.1 kilometres, while Phase Two is jointly executed by BK Inc. and K. Nauth.

Of the Phase Two, B.K. Inc is tackling the road works from Number 36 to Number 63 – a total of 21.5 kilometres, and the remaining portion of 23.8 kilometres, from Number 65 to Moleson Creek, is being done by contractor Nauth.

The asphalt for the road surfacing is produced by a state-of-the art plant acquired in India and this is set up in its compound at Tarlogie.

Phase One of the project, New Amsterdam to Number 36 Village, has been ongoing for some two years, but a number of factors, including difficulty in sourcing road building material in particular aggregates, have contributed to the delay.

Huge turn-out at New York agri-business investment seminar

In excess of four hundred persons comprising members of the Diaspora, private sector representatives, investors and potential investors attended an agri-business investment seminar and mini exhibition held on November 26 at South Ozone Park, New York, which showcased and promoted the various investment opportunities that exist in Guyana's agriculture sector.

Delivering the feature address was President Bharrat Jagdeo who pointed out that a significant part of Guyana's policy as the country moves towards a low carbon-based economy, is to facilitate the growth and development of the agriculture sector.

The ideal situation, the President noted, is to have plantation type agriculture ventures existing parallel to small scale operations.

The Guyanese Head-of-State said massive tracts of land in the country's intermediate savannahs can be used for soya bean production, a lucrative business venture for which there is a readily available market.

In further highlighting the business opportunities that exist in Guyana's agriculture sector and the ongoing interventions to attract investment, President Jagdeo pointed out that a contracted firm recently interviewed approximately fifty companies in the United States with business interest in the import and production of fruit and vegetable, aquaculture, downstream processing in the forestry sector, among other areas.

USS Kearsarge projects

Crew members from the United States vessel, the USS Kearsarge on November 27 handed over two completed projects to Guyana; a play park rebuilt at the cost US$12,000 for the children of South Ruimveldt Gardens and a US$31,000 canteen at the West Demerara Regional Hospital, Region 3.

The USS Kearsarge, an 844 -foot long vessel, docked off Guyana's coast since November 9, brought medical aid and other forms of relief to Guyanese. The team comprised engineers and medical personnel from the US Public Health Service.

In collaboration with local health personnel, the US ranks carried out medical outreaches to residents of Mabaruma, Port Kaituma and Santa Rosa in Region 1.

The ship's crew also conducted renovation and repairs work at four sites in Georgetown, including the Houston Community High School.

News Briefs

Credits: Stabroek News, Chronicle, Mirror, Kaieteur News, GINA

Compiled and edited by Evangeline Ishmael

This page is part of Guyana News and Information.

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