The Ministry of Public Works today commissioned the newly-rehabilitated Fort Island Stelling which, according to the Minister of Public Works Juan Edghill, will now provide greater opportunities to the residents of the island.
“In delivering this stelling, we’re delivering new hope, new opportunities and the possibilities for a thriving, economically buoyant, Fort Island,” he remarked during the simple commissioning ceremony,
He explained that the project derived from the government’s philosophy that development must be equal for every Guyanese.
“When we went ahead with this project, it came out of philosophy that we operate by as a government: that every Guyanese is important and every community is important and development and progress must come to every community.”
Minister Edghill recalled that when the Dr Irfaan Ali-led administration came into office in 2020, they realised that Fort Island attracts scores of tourists every month and this tourism potential needed to be exploited.
“Some days they are more people visiting Fort Island than who live Fort Island and that’s the reality and if you have more people visiting than living here, the people of this island must be able to utilise that opportunity to their economic advantage,” he explained, noting that a modern stelling was therefore needed.
Minister Edghill further disclosed that the Ministry is pursuing the purchasing of a special type of vehicle which can assist in the transportation of elderly visitors around the island.
“For the elderly and those who are not as agile…I have instructed and we are pursuing buying a golf cart that will be stationed here that when people come out the boat, they can go in the golf cart and they can ride up to go to the Fort, seeing places and all the rest of it, and this will be part of the tourist enhancement features here in the island,” he explained.
In this regard, the Public Works Minister posited that better accountability will be needed at a community level.
“It means that your Community Development Council, it means that your organisational structure here in the island must be top-notch because when you’re plugging in resources, you have to have great management for its maintenance and care,” he noted.
Meanwhile, Minister within the Ministry of Public Works Deodat Indar lamented that the previous APNU+AFC administration did nothing to repair the Fort Island Stelling, which was falling apart at the time.
“Under the previous administration, they (the Residents) said that the former Minister…came and they were abusing them and when they asked for the stelling (to be repaired), they were vetted out with very unfavorable remarks…that was told to me when I came in 2020,” Indar explained.
“In 2020 December, while we we’re back into government and we were preparing budget that time and I said to them, we will put something in the budget for this island. When me and my colleagues sat down with Transport and Harbour Department, we said that we want Fort Island (Stelling) rehabilitated,” Indar added.
In addition to boosting tourism, Minister Indar explained that the new stelling will also help other economic sectors of the island.
The contract for the rehabilitation of the stelling was signed on August 18, 2021 to the tune of $82M and was awarded to IB contracting and Machinery services.
The project saw some 85 piles being driven into the low and high ramp areas as well as the main carriage way area, coupled with a number of other major repairs that had to be conducted on the Stelling.
For the first time ever, the stelling will be benefiting from solar power technology.