The University of Guyana commissioned the first component of its Campus Safety and Security Project on Thursday, funded by Stabroek Block co-venturers – ExxonMobil Guyana, Hess Guyana Exploration Ltd. and CNOOC Petroleum Guyana Limited – under the Greater Guyana Initiative (GGI).
A ceremony was held at the Georgetown campus for the commissioning of security buildings at the front and back of the campus, a refurbished arch at the front of the campus and a new arch and gates at the back entrance, fencing, 16 electronic security systems on high value campus buildings, and sanitisation units, among others. Another component of the project is expected at a later date with additional security upgrades.
Professor Paloma Mohamed, Vice Chancellor of the university, explained that the Georgetown campus had often found itself, in previous years, facing security breaches. Among these were that there would be one break-in every month, causing the campus to lose value estimated at about GY$1M on each occasion. This was compounded, she explained, by high levels of security staff absenteeism, which one security guard explained resulted from poor and unsafe working conditions. These occurrences were worrisome for students whose classes were scheduled at nights and resulted in a less than favourable environment for student learning.
The Vice Chancellor thanked the Stabroek Block co-venturers for financing the Campus Safety and Security project which, as she explained, “will impact the lives of 12,000 people immediately and directly.”
She said the impact of the project is tremendous because it will keep strategic assets of immense national value safer, preventing about GY$20 million a year in losses due to theft and disruptions.
Alumnus, Keith Whyte said the project will help the university to deliver a better quality of education, because students will be able to learn in a safe and secure environment. Recalling past incidents experienced on campus, Whyte said those unnerving occurrences can now be avoided.
Similar comments were shared by student leader, Yasmin Fazil. She said that with past insecurities, students, especially women, feared being on campus late at nights. But now, she added, students are more able to focus on the classroom.
One security worker, Sunita Lakeraj, recalled the mostly female security staff complement working under poor working conditions, including leaking roofs and rotting wooden workstations.
“No longer will staff members feel exposed or vulnerable,” Lakeraj said.
The GGI’s Socioeconomic Manager, Susan Scott, told the ceremony education is a fundamental building block for a globally competitive economy. She said the consortium is proud that its work in Guyana delivers more than just oil revenues, and that it looks forward to seeing Guyana achieve a prosperous future. The Stabroek block co-venturers – ExxonMobil, Hess and CNOOC – launched GGI in February 2021, a US$100 million commitment for capacity-building projects in-keeping with Guyana’s sustainable development objectives, over the next 10 years.
When Exxon, Hess and CNOOC discovered oil in 2015, Scott explained, they were excited not only to produce oil, but to invest in the development of Guyana, so it can achieve sustainable socioeconomic development. Exxon has donated millions of dollars to various projects to support the University of Guyana over the years.