Trouble in Guyana World Cup Camp
Mon, Aug 30, '04
Despite the best efforts by the Guyana government to put a positive spin on the situation, there is a huge question mark concerning the Indian construction firm that has been chosen to construct the cricket stadium for World Cup 2007.
Experts from the International Cricket Council (ICC) have rejected the drawings by the architects and are openly questioning the track record of Engineering Projects India Ltd (EPIL) in the area of stadium construction.
It is known that EPIL, the government-owned civil engineering & construction firm, does not have specific experience in the building of stadiums. That, coupled with the fact that the drawings have been rejected, is being described as the "biggest obstacle" to getting the project done in time.
Cricket World Cup 2007 managing director Chris Dehring confirmed the ICC request to modify the drawings but denied they were "rejected outright."
"The venue overlay meetings that are being held is with the purpose of modifying the drawings before construction starts so that the finished product conforms with the requirements of the ICC and the commercial partners of the event," Dehring told CaribbeanCricket.com
"In this regard, all stadium drawings presented by the LOCs [Local Organising Committees] during the overlay meetings have had suggested modifications in one form or another. We continue to hold discussions and very positive meetings with all of our LOCs on the important aspects of venue overlay," he added.
The architect's drawings now have to be redone by the September 8th and submitted to the ICC. The ICC will re-examine them on September 12th. Don Lockerbie, the Director of the World Cup Venue Assessment Team (VAT) will be reporting to the ICC on September 28. Only those countries whose technical preparations are up-to-date will get a "Notice to Proceed" on September 30th.
Dehring conceded that the state of preparedness of the LOCs varied, but insisted efforts were being made to bring those that are lagging "up the curve as quickly as possible" so that the necessary "Notice to Proceed" can be issued for construction to proceed at full pace by September 30, 2004.
It is the second time in as many months that questions have swirled around Guyana's stadium plans. Even though construction work has already started on the Providence stadium, there are genuine fears that the decision to spend US$20 million could come back to haunt the cash-strapped South American country.
In fact, a high-level source told CaribbeanCricket.com that the ICC CWC 2007 has been making queries about the economic sense of spending so much money on a stadium in a country experiencing major economic problems. The IMF has also asked the same questions because, once a country is in a Fund programme, that country is not at liberty to borrow or undertake major projects without its approval.
In this context, the IMF has decided to "conduct feasibility studies for all large projects...." This includes the stadium. The decision is to do the feasibility study alongside the construction of the stadium. If it is found that the stadium is not feasible, then there will compensatory financial adjustments. In other words, future Fund programme will have more stringent conditions.
To make a long story short, one official explained, the stadium is not threatened by the IMF feasibility study; the people of Guyana are.
According to one official, a bigger threat is the widespread belief (at the WICB/ICC CWC 2007) that the stadium will not be completed in time. According to one confidential report, Guyana was only granted the 'green package' because it is widely anticipated that within the next six months, Guyana could be excluded from the entire process because of non-performance.
Bear in mind that Guyana got more than it bid for. The original Guyana bid was for the 'brown package' (hosting India's first round games) but this was awarded to Trinidad & Tobago.
Instead, Guyana got the "green package" which is six Super 8 (quarter final matches). The allocation of the Super 8 matches does *not* automatically mean that Guyana will in fact get to host the matches.
At a meeting in Jamaica in mid-August, Guyana's delegation made a strong case about its technical ability to complete the stadium and the World Cup board issued a statement to say Guyana was first to start construction. But, it is clear Guyana is not out of the woods yet.
The good point here, as Dehring explained, is that the CWC is committed helping those countries awarded games to honour their obligations.
In the meantime work has begun on the stadium amidst major finger-crossing that the infamous Guyana weather and politics (the World Cup straddles the 2006 elections) do not spoil things.