Guyana Infrastructure: Status of Wharves and stellings


Stabroek News

Unfortunately, the Charity wharf is not an anomaly. With the exception of perhaps the mooring at Moleson Creek, where the Guyana-Suriname ferry operates from, and perhaps the one at Good Hope/Supenaam, which has also had its own set of woes, wharves and stellings around the country have been allowed to fall into staggering disrepair.

In March 2006, construction company BK International had been awarded a contract to the tune of $574.2 million to construct a new stelling at Good Hope/Supenaam as well as to rehabilitate the marketing centre wharf at Charity. Apart from the Supenaam stelling being in an acute state of disrepair, it needed to be upgraded to facilitate the roll-on/roll-off ferries that the then PPP/C government was acquiring from China.

In April 2010, a section of the not-quite-complete Supenaam stelling sank causing much consternation. Initially, the then minister of Transport and Hydraulics Robeson Benn had put it down to a mistake and nothing to be alarmed about as it was being corrected. However, two weeks later, with the issue still unaddressed, Head of BK International Brian Tiwari accused workers in Mr Benn’s ministry of making modifications which compromised the structural integrity of the stelling.
After a war of words between various members of the Jagdeo administration and Mr Tiwari and the hiring of engineers to review the work done, the government was forced to expend more funds on making the structure usable. Nevertheless, it remained defective. On June 20, 2017, the current government announced the award of a contract worth $120.5 million to S Maraj Contracting Services for works to be done on the Supenaam Stelling.

At the same time, it also revealed that M Sukhai Contracting Services was awarded a contract worth $27.9 million for rehabilitation of the Morawhanna Stelling in Region One (Barima/Waini).

The stelling at Parika, which has been a crumbling eyesore for over a decade, will hopefully in the not too distant future see improvements. Last year, the Caribbean Development Bank announced that it had approved funding to the tune of US$4.4 million ($900 million) to finance feasibility studies and designs for the construction of a new bridge at Wismar, the upgrade of the Lethem aerodrome and a new transport terminal at Parika. And in February, five companies submitted bids ranging from $164.8 million to $312.2 million to conduct a feasibility study for the design and construction of a new stelling at Parika. In the meantime, in June this year, a $52.01 million contract was awarded to Memorex Enterprise for repairs to the Parika Ferry Stelling.

In 2014, while in opposition, the APNU had called out the then government on its inept approach to infrastructure. In particular, the party had pointed to the neglect and disrepair of the Bartica, New Amsterdam, Parika, Rosignol, Stabroek, Vreed-en-Hoop and Wakenaam stellings. Further, shortly after it formed the new government with the AFC the next year, the government through its Ministry of Public Infrastructure had announced that the Bartica, Leguan, Parika stellings were to undergo urgent repairs in 2016.

But the contract for the Leguan Stelling, which was so bad that it was likened to a death trap, was not awarded until September 2018. The intention was to build a new one while the residents continued to use the old. But before work could start on the $413.2 million contract, a part of the old stelling collapsed in January this year necessitating urgent repairs.

The Vreed-en-Hoop and Georgetown ferry stellings and the extended Stabroek Wharf where some vendors still ply their trade are in very poor shape and need to be addressed given that they are usually pressed into hard use whenever the Demerara Harbour Bridge is out of operation.

The harbour bridge, which has been in existence since 1978 and provides a crucial link between the city and West Demerara and beyond, has only remained operable because it is stringently maintained. In every other piece of infrastructure referred to in this column, maintenance has been inadequate to non-existent necessitating the expenditure of millions of dollars to replace and rehabilitate them.

It is incomprehensible that in a country where waterways connect major towns, wharves and stellings could be so neglected. One would hope that going forward those in authority see it fit to maintain these structures on which billions of dollars are being spent.


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  • Trevor  On November 22, 2019 at 7:47 am

    Vreed en Hoop is definitely not that close to the Essequibo islands!

    And the word stelling is not even recognised in the dictionary!

    Who wants to bet that American entertainment moguls will make a million-dollar album named “Stelling”? Culture vulture 1st world people don’t even know where Vreed en Hoop is!

  • Ian Welch  On November 22, 2019 at 1:30 pm

    Stelling is apparently Dutch for rack. [News to me too.] All these structures will be increasingly stressed with rising tides from global warming so need to be addressed with urgency.

    • Trevor  On November 22, 2019 at 2:36 pm

      Increased oil drilling might also affect tides.

  • Trevor  On November 22, 2019 at 2:35 pm

    What’s with the comment posting?

    Testing comment!

  • Trevor  On November 22, 2019 at 2:38 pm

    If any American rapper starts using the word “stelling” in their songs, they stole it from here!

    It was also my high school friends who told me about “Herstelling” as a joke, “stelling” being a euphemism to objectify a woman of some body part—herstelling bruk! herstelling nice, or some joke like that.

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