An Engineering Council is long overdue
Stabroek News
May 3, 2002

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Dear Editor,

A wharf that sailed. A sea defence that did not defend. A dam that became a channel. In any series of projects there may be some failure but when success becomes the exception, the time is overdue to take stock.

A firm, whose business was far removed from engineering, was awarded a sea defence contract. When asked privately how they proposed to handle it, the answer was "we'll get someone to tell us what to do". The award of public contracts is government business and the ultimate responsibility for it lies with the President and Cabinet. Their acknowledgement of this is implicit in their self congratulation at every ribbon cutting of a completed project. Regrettably, in failure, with the ribbons gone only the buck remains and that is determinedly pushed elsewhere.

By now, it should be clear that political and other affinities are not design criteria in public works and, I would guess, that no socialist concept equates knowledge with its absence or skill with unskill.

The correction of this problem is fundamental if we are not to continue to regress and its correction can be made only by the President and his colleagues.

The other part of the failure is in the engineering itself. The practice of engineering in our country is unregulated and amorphous. Seemingly, the only point of coincidence is the requirement that, yearly, each person wishing to practise as an engineer pay ten thousand dollars to the Guyana Revenue Authority for a tax practice certificate.

It has been realized for decades that this state of affairs is undesirable and counter to the public good. A draft engineering practice bill, on a par with those that regulate the practice of medicine and dentistry has long lain fallow.

The minority parties have been loud and justifiably so, in outrage with the engineering failure rate. It would be a service to the nation if they would introduce into parliament an Engineering Council Bill and stay to see it passed.

Yours faithfully,

Makepeace Richmond