President Dr Irfaan Ali charged local businesses and companies on Saturday to think about achieving international standards which would require them to get certified, and increase their knowledge of international law.
“From now on, our focus must be on building international capacity, while satisfying local demands,” President Ali said at the commissioning ceremony of GAICO Construction’s US$10 million Trailing Suction Hopper Dredge – Malavi – at Nimes, West Bank Demerara.
The Head of State emphasized that if local companies want to compete on the international stage, the days of avoiding taxes and declaration must be over.
“If you really want to build an international company, these are not things you should shy away from,” the President said.
President Ali explained that while the commissioning dredge may seem simple, it will greatly increase the dredging capabilities in Guyana.
The Trailing Suction Hopper Dredge set sail in February from the RAK Port in Dubai for Guyana and according to President Ali, a two-channel would be required for the country’s intended development over the next few years.
“We are operating with a one-way channel just using the projection of the most basic of growth in this river within five years, less than five years we have to get that to a two way.”
President Ali said not only would a two-channel be needed but also a diversion channel or flood bypass on the West Bank of the Demerara River.
He revealed that already some $50 million has been spent in Region Three to supply rigs offshore with food supplies and water.
But the government is now faced with a new challenge where the mud from the Amazon River is drifting and accumulating at the mouth of the Demerara River.
“If you notice, you have new [sediments] along the East Coast, new sediment being deposited all around these coasts, that is a new issue that we have to deal with,” President Ali revealed.
But with GAICO’s investment, the issue can be addressed, Ali said, noting that the government is discussing whether to allow the sediments to accumulate to form new lands or to extend sea defences.
Meanwhile, GAICO’s Chief Executive Officer Komal Singh said that the acquisition of the new dredge is a major achievement for the company and by extension the country.
“GAICO continues to create strategic partnerships around the world to bring the expertise and the skills needed to elevate our locals to be able to function effectively in areas of opportunities where we don’t have requisite skill set.”
GAICO has been in operation for the past 30 years but got involved in the dredging business in 2010. Singh explained that they started out using tugboats to dredge but soon recognised that the market required more than what they had to offer.
“It is imperative for us to have some of these rivers dredged and to allow deeper draft so vessels can get in and out of our channel so we can all enjoy better economies of scale of importation,” Singh revealed.
Singh explained that dredging not only assists bigger vessels to traverse the rivers but also helps farmers to clear outfalls to mitigate flooding.
“We have jumped the limb on bold investment because we have a government today that supports the private sector in a very, very big way, a government today that sees the need of our economy and the need of getting the private sector up to speed so that they can be that true engine of growth to develop our country,” Singh said.
By the end of July/August, the company’s Nismes site will be developed into a fully certified port facility.
GAICO is also involved in civil works, towing services, cable laying, waste management and oil spill response and training.