My attention was drawn to a recent article from the Department of Public Information (DPI), published under the title “$200M road to open up intermediate Savannahs -road from Berbice River to Ebini ranch to be completed by September”. This was published on May 30th, 2018. It is obvious that DPI was seeking to do damage control after the public exposure of this project by Citizens’ Report, in an article titled “$100M later and Ebini road yet to be completed, contractor handpicked”. In that article, by way of an invited comment, I asked ten questions and called upon the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA) and the Ministry of Agriculture to provide answers and to come clean on this issue with the taxpayers.
My colleague, Parliamentary spokesperson on agriculture, Mr Dharamkumar Seeraj, also commented on the issue.
Notably, none of the concerns raised by us was addressed in the DPI report. Rather, we saw an attempt to justify this project by explaining that it is to open up the Intermediate Savannahs for farming as a mitigating factor for climate change.
The concerns raised, and I reiterate, are the secrecy, the lack of due process, and the alleged numerous breaches of the Procurement Act to facilitate a hand-picked contractor and a now-believed incestuous relationship between the Deputy Director of NDIA, who is believed to be supervising the works and signing off on payments to the contractor he hand-picked. No amount of “fancy footworks” will stop us from pursuing this matter.
It is clear that all is not well in the way things are being managed at NDIA, because since the publication of the article, a number of individuals have made contact with me concerning other alleged wrongdoings at NDIA, which again involve the Deputy Director, Dave Hicks.
One such revelation has to do with the consultant and the contractor, allegedly for works being done at the rehabilitation of the Three Friends pump station in Essequibo. It has been brought to our attention that the consultancy firm, C.B & Associates Inc., which shares a close relationship with the Deputy Director of NDIA, received a letter of credit of $15 million from Samaroo Investments, the contractor on this project, to secure his bid, and was subsequently awarded the consultancy services for this project.
Therefore, a consultant is supervising a contractor on a project the financial security of which is dependent upon that contractor.
All of this is known at NDIA, yet nothing has been done to bring an end to this incestuous relationship that exposes the state and taxpayers. This is real Misconduct in Public Office.
I hope that the goodly gentleman, Mr Fredrick Flatts, the Director of NDIA, will not allow himself to be used again by the DPI to provide a cover up to obvious corruption.
Further, I take this opportunity to call upon the Public Procurement Commission (PPC) and the Office of the Auditor General to immediately investigate these glaring breaches of our procurement laws.
Juan Edghill, MP
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