Total wastage of taxpayers’ money; Minister Croal must answer for unfinished $416M Housing Ministry’s Office

By Annette Ferguson, MP, Shadow, Housing and Water- National budget for 2024, $1.146 Trillion was passed on Friday, February 2, 2024. In budget 2023, the sum of $416M was approved for the construction of a new office for the Ministry of Housing, Central Housing and Planning Authority. However, in 2023 construction commenced on a portion of land, in Houston along the new Mandela-Eccles Road, but seems stalled for reasons unknown to the Guyanese taxpayers.

The first image below reflects the state of the works on January 31, 2024, days after the budget debates commenced on Monday, January 22, 2024, while the second image gives a clear description of the current state of the structure.

Image taken before budget presentation in January 2024

I must admit how surprised I am that this project is not moving apace as it should. What I recognised prior to the budget debates, the heavy presence of machines, equipment and materials mobilised by contractors on the Haags Bosch road, to commence civil works, etal from Windsor Estate Road to the East Bank Demerara public road and was curious to know how is it that works are starting and the budget was NOT read, nor passed at that time.

Current State of the project site.

On January 31, 2024, during the consideration of the estimates for the Ministry of Housing and Water, the total sum budgeted for this sector is $78B, of which portion of that money in the sum of $308M will go towards the construction of the new office for the Ministry, according to Mr. Colin Croal, Minister of Housing and Water.

It is approximately one month, five days since the approval and passage of budget 2024 and there is the absence of workers and equipment on the project site to continue works on the structure.

What is of concern to me is that at March 7, 2024, the total sum approved for this project is $724M, and in my estimation, the works done to date is 5%. This is by the evidence of photos exhibited below.

Also, of concern, which I do hope Mr. Croal will provide answers or explanations for is as follows:

  1. Why wasn’t there a sod turning for this project?
  2. Why is there an absence of a billboard, depicting the design of the project, total project cost, duration of the project and the company to whom the contract has been awarded?
  3. What is causing the delay of the project?
  4. When are works likely to recommence?
  5. What percentage of works has been completed at March 2024?

The above questions are necessary for transparency and accountability to the Taxpayers of Guyana. It is placed in the public domain, since the PPP/C regime’s failure to hold regular sittings of the National Assembly, for these matters to be ventilated.

The Coalition Opposition is on record highlighting and calling out the regime on the management, execution and implementation of projects. There are other projects for which billions have been appropriated in budgets 2021-2023, yet to commence. It clearly shows that the regime has no coherent plan in rolling out projects but is in the business of biting more than they can chew, hence the delays in project and shoddy works being done. A total wastage of taxpayers’ money.

It is my desire that Hon. Croal will provide the appropriate responses to my questions, using similar medium.