It takes longer in Guyana – commentary

It takes longer in Guyana

September 1, 2012 | By | Editorial

One of the things that never cease to amaze the professionals in the society is the length of time it takes to complete even the simplest task. To acquire a birth certificate is a gargantuan task. People travel miles to the office of the Registrar General and would have to leave without the document.

This is not to say that the clerks are sluggish. Rather, it is the fact that they need to check the records, given the extent of forgery in the society.

It is the same with the passport. Each day, despite the various measures that the authorities have put in place, the Passport Office is full of people. One is left to wonder why is it that a country with less than a million people appears to be incapable of producing enough of the travel document.                    

Again, forgery is one of the root causes. People would go to the United States Embassy in Georgetown seeking a visa and would be denied. They would leave the embassy with the denial stamped in the passport and proceed to destroy the document. Having destroyed the document they would then seek a new one under the pretext that the previous document was lost.

However, these are minor compared to the other things that take a long time to be fashioned or completed. More than a year ago, the Ministry of Works issued a tender for the rehabilitation of the ferry stellings at Parika and Supenaam. The project should have been completed within four weeks; it took more than a year.

The ferries that came as a gift from China and forced the modification of the stellings at Parika and Supenaam were rehabilitated, and it took longer than usual before they too could have become operational.

It is not that Guyana is without skills; rather it is a case of Guyanese having grown accustomed to working at a pedantic rate. Unless they are driven, the workers will do the barest minimum in a given day.  But in this world today, people should produce to the optimum.

At present, the nation is undertaking a host of major projects. There is the expansion of the Cheddi Jagan International Airport, being done by some Chinese contractors. One clause in the contract is that the Chinese be provided with at least ten hours of working conditions per day. Guyanese have grown accustomed to working no more than eight hours. Any extra hour is deemed overtime.

Then there is the work on the Marriott Hotel. Again the Chinese are going to demand extended hours of work. They are accustomed to working round-the-clock, splitting the labour force into shifts. The Guyanese employed on these projects are going to find themselves exposed to a new work ethic.  But there is often resistance to change, and one will certainly see multiple approaches to the trades unions and the possibility of strikes, over what the Guyanese would describe as harsh work conditions.

Then there are the works on the four-lane highways being constructed in Guyana. These have been ongoing for a very long time. Motorists would often find stalled works because the work day ends shortly after 16:00 hours.

Guyana therefore has the unique distinction of working on a major thoroughfare within the same schedule as the office worker. In any other country the work on the roads, given their importance, would have progressed round-the-clock. This would have been necessary to ease the very congestion that sparked the road expansion programme.

Instead, for two or more years, Guyana has massive excavations alongside its main thoroughfares. These excavations are to accommodate road works, but these are going nowhere. True to tradition, everything in Guyana does take an inordinately long time to get done.

However, there are examples of real Guyanese determination and ingenuity. When the Demerara Harbour Bridge collapsed recently, workers worked night and day to effect the repairs. It would have been interesting if they had opted to work like those who insist on an eight-hour work-day. Even those who insist on working eight hours per day would have vented their spleen.

Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.


  • Bikurguy  On 10/08/2012 at 4:55 am

    Maybe the Chinese Govt doesnt subscribe to the ILO. Becasue ILO states that a work day is 8 hours long and any time after is considered overtime. If you think construction takes long in Guyana, you should see the speed or lack there of in road, bridges here in the good old USA.

  • de castro  On 10/08/2012 at 10:44 am

    as an ex trade-unionist … my only comment is that “discipline” or “work-ethic”
    is more important than “hours” worked or rate paid.

    In EUROLAND we have a “MINIMUM WAGE” for any hourly paid worker.
    It varies from country to country but will eventually be standard within borders.
    There is no “fixed” hours of work ….only “fixed” rate per hour.
    The UNIONS negotiate the “hours” of work and the “rates” paid for any extra hours worked.

    A non euroland country SWITZERLAND has a minimum wage of 16.50 swiss francs per hour ….about 3 times the hourly rate of 6.13 euros per hour.
    SWIZERLAND has “full employment” … no unemployment or unemployment benefits to pay out.
    But they also operate a “closed shop” policy….outsiders are only given a 6 months contract of work…..only the skills that they need are given longer contracts of employment.

    The CHINESE and INDIANS even the BRAZILIANS will eventually introduce a
    “minimum wage·” as it does stabalise the economy and avoid exploitation of labour…..without these safeguards employers will abuse their workforce.
    The essence is to make sure the TAXES collected from “workers”is spent
    to improve the lives of eyeryone.
    TAXES and its “COLLECTION” is essential to any government
    the ones that collect it most efficiently and spends it wisely will
    be the most competitive in a “GLOBAL” situ.
    TAX is the “WEAPON” of mass wealth distribution.

    my view entirely although others may disagree and hopefully comment.

    thank you for your “time” reading this epitath.


  • Cyril Balkaran  On 10/09/2012 at 9:01 am

    Many countries of today may talk of the relavance or irrelavance of the Trade Union movements, especially since the introduction of individual contracts and so on. There is the weakening of the Trade union movement globally.
    The Minimum wages and pay for daily rated workers have all been done in good faith. These are legal contracts between government and unions and workers.
    Exploitation of the workers will never end and the evasion of Tax will also follow on. Kamptan you forgot the impact of the Corruption Industry on every government and their depleted treasury. The workers work and fill the treasury, then comes the Corrupt Politicians and raid the treasury. What sense does it make. The Unions are helpless here as the workers have voted these Corrupt people into the offices and ministries of Government. A government without spirituality and morality is in fact a Spiritually dead government.

  • de castro  On 10/12/2012 at 10:35 am

    sorry took so long to reply as SPAIN is in FIESTA today nationally and locally until Tuesday…austerity ?
    your last line is confusing….
    SPIRITUALLY ….DEAD….sorry beg to differ….
    although I dont believe in “re-incarnation” I also am not religious.

    NEVER say NEVER !

    in politricks nothing is “impossible”
    in economics nothing is “possible”
    in religion nothing is both possible and impossible….

    I accept the helplessness of the trade-union movement in GUYANA
    but as am forever the optimist ….that situation must “CHANGE” and will
    change sometinme in the future…..

    thanks for your “point of view”


  • Cyril Balkaran  On 10/13/2012 at 3:18 am

    Politicians all over the democratic world fight for political power and for political control of the minds of the electorate. These politicians have been described as Political Animals and certainly they have a political culture and follow a morality and spirituality of their own brand and breed. They are in other words not church men and lay preachers but they operate a mafia type of Organization in each country and they buy and sell votes in the Parliament so that they remain at all times in control of the situation and the Speaker too. The culture they spread breeds Corruption and it is because of their undue influence on the Treasury and on the Real Estate Industry that the entire Industry EXPERIENCED a collapse in the USA and elsewhere. The Capitalist economies are always in the mode where the sharks gobble up the fishes and so sharks rule freely everywhere. The parliamentary democracy are for the sophisticated countries and economies. That is why there is a first world and a third world. The vast differences of GDP and Services offered to the population leave one to wonder about mental state of many power hungry politicians globally. If Politicians were Spiritually inclined then their Vision for nation would have been different. These people are all plunders of the National good and National Treasury. I am painting all of them with the same brush due to the fact that they are aware of a Spiritual Dimension in our lives and you know that is not a deterant in their way of thinking. this has nothing to do with believing in the Theory of Rebirth, but it has a lot to do with the planting of the Seeds. If you plant good seeds you will reap good crops and vice versa. There is no law on earth to make any politician do anything that the people want but also no Parliament in the world can make a politican do otherwise.

  • de castro  On 10/14/2012 at 6:41 pm

    of course i will disagree….based on the “admission” of painting all politicians with the same brush… two persons are exactly the same….DNA
    has proved that…even twin brothers or sisters are different.
    I was fortunate to have 4 children….
    2 girls and 2 boys (twins) and I am also a twin…anomoly I guess….

    no two person are the same ….based on my personal experiencing in bringing them up !

    so for me my friend I will always give the benefit of the doubt to the “politician”
    until he makes his first mistake….and I support that we are “innocent” until proven “guilty” …. proven beyond all reasonale doubt !

    sorry but the politicians did not destroy the Real Estate industry…..or even
    understood it….it was “loose” lending that created the bubble…
    It was the “regulators” not doing their job “regulating” the banks et al properly….

    Corruption is ever present in every “ecconomy” first world or third world…
    unfortunately it is more manageable in “first world”
    and out of control in third world”….endemic in every level of society.

    Spirituality does influence “moral” values but “force feeding” religion
    is also very counter productive…

    I can go on and on but would prefer not to do so as it is fair that others should have their say…

    thanks for your critique


  • Shelley Burke  On 12/06/2012 at 8:51 pm

    If Guyana wants to be a modern country that attracts foreign businesses, tourism and new immigrants then the Guyanese people will have to be shown that a different work ethic model is absolutely necessary for the structure of a changing the society. I don’t believe that Guyanese people can’t work differently I believe the system that they have is all they have been exposed to but in order to forge progress working hours have to be modernized to accommodate these changes. If there are reasonable priced public transportation and shops that are opened 24 hours where meals can be purchased then Guyanese will understand that they are different models of a work day not only 8 AM-4 PM then everything is closed after that time. They also have to work on public security and safety a fear and concern that many people have about Guyana. In order to see progress Guyana must develop an effective work force or seek international help to strengthen their current work force.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: