‘Eyesore’ City Hall building to be restored in 18 months

--as $779.6M contract signed

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It was once deemed “Victorian Exuberance in timber” but years of neglect resulted in the historic City Hall building being left in a dilapidated state, now being termed an “eyesore”.

This shall soon be words in the past since the building is set for upgrade and restoration in the next 18 months as the Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development signed the million-dollar contract, awarded to Fides Guyana Inc. to commence the restoration of the neo-gothic style building.

At the contract signing ceremony on Friday, subject minister Nigel Dharamlall highlighted that the restoration of City Hall forms part of President Irfaan Ali’s vision to enhance the aesthetic of the capital city.

The contract being signed the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development Prema Roopnarine (right) and the owner of Fides Guyana Inc. (Photo: DPI/September 24, 2021)

“The capital city is described as the center of business, and we believe as a government it is our duty, despite the challenges of the city council…we have decided to take the bull by the horns and ensure that investment is made in the city of Georgetown so that Guyana becomes a number one destination again,” Minister Dharamlall noted.

He sent a strong message to the contractor that the 18-month restoration period will not be extended and further encouraged that local talents and local materials be utilised to complete the task.“We are going to hold the contractors to that 18-month period as well. I’m not in the habit of extending contracts at the Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development.

Minister of Local Government and Regional Development, Nigel Dharamlall (Photo: DPI/September 24, 2021)

“We are not in the habit of extending contracts beyond their due dates because we have made these plans, we are spending on this contract $779.6 million over the next 18 months,” Minister Dharamlall emphasised.

Meanwhile, the Mayor of Georgetown, Ubraj Narine, lauded the initiative and relayed that the council will continue to work with the government to develop the city.

“I’m happy to see that the minister has taken this venture to a different level where we can be able to work for the benefit of our people of the city, and, not only to restore City Hall.

“There are other projects and other developments that I would like to work with the government so that we can be able to get on with the business of the city.”

Mayor Narine noted that when the building is complete, it would be utilised as a library and tourist site, per the recommendation of the European Union (EU). The EU in 2016 conducted a feasibility study to the tune of $60 million to facilitate the restoration of the historic building.

Mayor of Georgetown, Ubraj Narine (Photo: DPI/September 24, 2021)

The EU’s representative, Evelina Melbarzde who was present at the signing, pledged continued support to aid the government’s efforts in keeping Guyana’s history alive.

City Hall was designed by architect Ignatius Scoles, and the foundation stone was laid by Governor Henry Turner Irving on December 23, 1887.  It was officially opened on July 1, 1889, by Governor Viscount Gormanston.

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