May 2018 deadline for completion of upgrades at ACCC

Rehabilitation of the Arthur Chung Conference Centre (ACCC) is scheduled for May 27, 2018. The facility, which hosts high-level forums, meetings, graduations, religious and other functions, was officially closed on December 1, 2016, after a number of structural damages were discovered by contractors.

The Ministry of Public Telecommunications (MoPT) following requests to view the repairs and upgrading works, today hosted a media tour of the ACCC.

The conference centre, which was a gift from the People’s Republic of China was officially opened on February 16, 2006 and was known as the Guyana International Conference Centre (GICC).

It was renamed the Arthur Chung Conference Centre (ACCC) in 2015 in honour of Guyana’s first president, Arthur Chung who served the country from 1970-1980.

Minister of Public Telecommunications, Catherine Hughes speaking at a press briefing prior to the tour, clarified that before building of the centre commenced, a contract was signed in 2004 between Guyana and China, which stipulated that the construction company will carry out maintenance and repairs to the building after 10 years of use.

China Civil Engineering Construction Company conducted the works.

Apart from the legal stipulation, Minister Hughes said before those ten years were up, certain areas of the structure were already showing signs of needed repairs.

“We were seeing some cracks in the ceiling, leaking pipes, uneven floors…and so when the decision was made to stick to the 2016 deadline for repairs, we had actually wanted to keep the Centre open during that Christmas holidays, but we realised we could not take the chance.”

According to Minister Hughes, it is expected that the facility will be formally handed over to the Government of Guyana shortly after its completion. Further, she noted that all contractual agreements have been honoured.

The minister, while expressing gratitude to the People’s Republic of China for the gift, pointed out that Guyana was the first English-speaking Caribbean country to formally establish diplomatic relations with China in 1972.

In June, the two countries will be celebrating 40 years of friendship and cooperation, which Minister Hughes said continues to be grounded in mutual respect.

Minister of Public Telecommunications, Catherine Hughes, members of the ACCC Monitoring Committee, and Chinese representative.
Minister of Public Telecommunications, Catherine Hughes, members of the ACCC Monitoring Committee, and Chinese representative.

General Manager of the ACCC, Nancomar Ramdial said that cracks and uneven settling of the ground floor, which caused floor tiles to shift and damaged underground installations, made the Centre unsafe for staff and the public.

He noted that over the past 10 years, the Centre acquired an excellent reputation with bookings increasing steadily from 13 events in 2007 to 114 in 2016, with most events running for two to five days.

The ACCC has three main meeting areas, the main conference hall with a seating for 500 persons, the eastern conference room with seating for 220 persons and the western conference room with seating for 120 persons.

According to Ramdial, with the exception of the conference hall, each conference room could be divided into a total of five smaller rooms that can accommodate 60 persons.

The new ACCC also boasts a computer lab with 20 internet-ready computers and can facilitate computer training, serve as an internet café and a media centre.

The ACCC is benefitting from a steel canopy with reinforced glass.
The ACCC is benefitting from a steel canopy with reinforced glass.

The General Manager said every meeting room will be completely modernised with new equipment for better services and additional capacity. The new equipment will include a PA system, projectors, electronic screens, video conferencing equipment, and air conditioning units.

Importantly, in keeping with the ministry’s vision of providing free internet access, the ACCC will now become an internet hotspot.

Other facilities include a conference secretariat, business centre, first aid clinic, dining hall and kitchen.

The Monitoring Committee for the ACCC comprises eleven members including the Centre’s General Manager and is chaired by Deborah McNichol of the MoPT.

Vaniar Guttierrez, Building Engineer/Architect at the Ministry, said the Committee is pleased with the quality of work thus far. He said that extra steps have been made to ensure the flooring is structurally capable of accommodating varying loads.

He noted that “one of the upgrades that we have and can appreciate is the canopy which is done with a steel structure and reinforced glass and LED lights, 100 watts which will be sufficient to light the entire area. That canopy will give us security against very bad weather.”

The ACCC is also benefitting from a modern underground sewage system.

Source: Stacy Carmichael – DPI