Govt cancels plan to dismantle, distribute stands

By Devina Samaroo

Government has abandoned its plan to install modern seating arrangements at D’Urban Park, the venue projected to be a world-class arena for major public events.

The wooden bleachers that can accommodate 28,000 persons altogether, were initially slated to be dismantled and distributed after the 50th Independence Anniversary celebrations.

The announcement to dismantle the bleachers had come in light of strong criticisms about the quality of the work and the appropriateness of using wood to construct stands for a proposed state-of-the-art stadium.

But President David Granger during an interview on “The Public Interest” revealed that there were several requests for the wooden stands to remain at the facility and upon consideration, his Government decided it was a sound move.

“We had a second look at it, D’Urban Park is now an institution which people have started to use… It is very likely that D’Urban Park, which is the single largest stadium in the country, will be kept as a place of public purposes and the stands will not be dismantled,” he stated.

Concerns about the integrity of the stands were raised by a number of persons, even by the General Secretary of the General Contractors Association of Guyana, Neil Rogers, who concluded that the work was very “shabby”.

His assessment was made approximately one month before D’Urban Park was scheduled to accommodate a gargantuan crowd.

He had asserted that the inferiority of the work goes beyond what meets the eye, pointing out that he has a “contractor’s eye”, and explained that wood was jointed in places that are load bearing and that bolts were inserted where they ought not to have been.

Another concern he highlighted was the quality of the lumber supplied for the construction, which was a public-private partnership at that time.

Subsequently, management of the project was pulled from the hands of private individuals and placed under the Public Infrastructure Ministry. It became solely a public project.

Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson had disclosed that the stands would be dismantled and distributed to community centre grounds across the country. The names of the centres at the time were withheld from the public.

Now that the stands will no longer be sent to community centres, alternative arrangements may be made to ensure those recreational venues are adequately equipped with proper seating facilities.

The Head-of-State also explained that Government is looking to develop additional recreational facilities in the towns across the country.

Meanwhile, reports indicate that the cost of construction of the D’Urban Park bleachers alone amounted to some $210 million. This is in addition to unknown sums which was spent by private businessman on the project.

When prompted, President Granger was unable to disclose the ratio of contribution from private and public sectors.

Government had explained that all private donations were made to a registered company, which is under a separate head outside of the Ministry of Public Infrastructure.

The D’Urban Park development initiative is being rolled out in three phases:

Phase one, which entailed uprooting the overburden and replacing it with sand and loam to enable construction of drains and pathways and the installation of floodlights, was completed in time for the Jubilee Celebrations on May 26. According to reports, $150 million was allocated for those works.

An artist’s impression of the D’Urban Park facility shows that there will be nine ponds but Minister Patterson had told “Guyana Times” on Independence Day 2016 that assessments will have to be made before a concrete decision is made on the way forward:

“It is supposed to be a green space for the benefit of every Guyanese…everything is conceptual at the moment. You would have probably seen the artistic designs. But the final decision will be representing the country about where we are and where we want to go,” he had stated.

It remains sure however, that D’Urban Park will be used for a variety of public events, including the Mashramani float parade; religious ceremonies; food fairs and educational exhibitions; musical concerts; medical outreaches; physical training and gymnastic displays, and public rallies.