Goede middag iedereen, Good afternoon.
Deputy Permanent Michiel Raafenberg
Representatives of the Government of Suriname,
Members of the diplomatic corps,
Members of business and industry,
Thank you for joining us this afternoon, for making your way through the dust/mud and graciously leaving your cell phones behind.
A little over a year ago, many of you attended a brick laying ceremony to mark the beginning of construction of our new U.S. Embassy complex.
Today, we are pleased to welcome you back to celebrate the topping out, marking the completion of the roof of the new embassy – the highest point of the structure.
Alvorens ik meer in het Engels praat, Wil ik mijn dank uitbrengen aan de hardwerkende bouwvakkers. Zonder hen zou deze dag niet mogelijk zijn
Bedankt voor jullie inzet.
It’s hard to believe that just one year ago this was not much more than a hole in the ground.
To give you a few numbers:
- Since last March, more than 1,000 workers – the vast majority (958) Surinamers – put in more than 700,000 man hours to bring us to this point.
- They drove 1,361 piles 30 meters into the earthgiving the buildings solid foundations.
- They poured 16,000 cubic meters of concrete, and placed 1,600 metric tons of rebar.
- They unloaded 270 shipping containers full of equipment and materials.
Most importantly, they did all this without any major injuries or work-site fatalities.
AND, with 47 percent of the construction completed, I’m delighted that thanks to the outstanding management of BL Harbert, project oversight by the U.S. Department of State and conscientious effort by our entire team, the project is well ahead of schedule.
Today’s celebration is most about the hard working men and women who accomplished this progress.
More than 400 dedicated people come to work at this site six days a week in fair weather and foul.
They represent 12 different countries, working together under the leadership of BL Harbert International, with a single purpose.
To construct a secure, modern, and sustainable facility from which our U.S. Embassy personnel can continue to build a mutually-beneficial relationship with the nation of Suriname and her people.
There is one more group of people I need to recognize: our neighbors.
Those who live on Kristal- and Kleinestraats and the surrounding area patiently and generously coexisted with a construction site for more than a year now.
- We do our best to be good neighbors: to clean up the dirt the rains wash from the site into the street;
- to work quickly to minimize street closures;
- to work as quietly as a construction site allows.
You may not have realized that our contractors used a special system to drive the piles without hammering them into place.
This drilled-pile method saved several months of construction time and prevented countless headaches from pounding equipment.
We hope that when this complex is complete our neighbors and all Surinamers will look at the new U.S. Embassy as a symbol of the enduring friendship between the United States and Suriname.
On the steel tree beside me you can see the flags of other nations representing the nationalities of our workers.
In case you don’t recognize them all, they are:
Benin, Canada, El Salvador, Guyana, the Netherlands, the Philippines, Rwanda, Switzerland, Togo, and Uganda,
Our workers are a proud symbol of productive, international cooperation.
Let’s be inspired by their example, and share their pride as we top off this new building.