Home Letters The controversial nature of contracts at the Education Ministry
I pen this letter to highlight the controversial nature of how contracts are being handled at the Ministry of Education, particularly by the Head of Buildings, Mr. Ron Eastman.
Indeed, I find it ironic that after his troubled career as Deputy City Engineer, including suspension by the Council (Guyana Chronicle, September 26, 2017), Mr. Eastman somehow found himself in charge of the engineering division of a much larger Government agency.
It appears that Mr. Eastman remains the same person when it comes to competence, but with no oversight to sanction him. There have been several instances, for example, wherein I and other contractors who have completed works at the Ministry scheduled meetings with Mr. Eastman, only to turn up and have him walk past us, making a loud statement that he is not meeting anybody. This is with him being fully aware that contractors are indebted to others, while he continues to withhold payments months after the jobs have been completed (in my case, payments for petty jobs done over five months ago).
What I have found even more questionable is that these jobs are now given primarily to contractors who previously worked with the Mayor and City Council, and more than 60 per cent of the contractors who worked with the Ministry of Education are now shut out of contracts from that agency.
It’s not to say that I don’t expect other contractors to be given jobs, but to shut out 60 per cent of us when we have all the necessary documentation, and accept new people because of seeming familiarity, is a grave injustice being handed down to us.
I solemnly believe that many of these issues are facilitated through poor management by the superiors of this Ministry. There is much talk about integrating Information Communication Technology (ICT) into teaching and learning processes of the Education system, but wouldn’t a good place to start be with the staff of the Ministry?
Currently, in trying to do business with them, you walk from office to office before completing one transaction.
Then there are the bills that this Ministry issues. I would suggest that the Minister takes some time to set up a team to assess the type of bills leaving this Ministry, because it is quite obvious that Mr. Hinds and his procurement department are not doing a proper job. What I have found with several bills is that the bills are so flawed that, upon purchase on numerous occasions, staff of the procurement department would have to call you to collect a new bill in exchange for the faulty document they had given you initially.
Now, mind you, these bills leave Mr. Eastman’s office and pass through Mr. Hinds’ office through rigorous processing; yet, still, we read weeding and cleaning bills asking for VAT certificates and electrical compliance; or petty works bills asking for 15 years’ experience.
I am not one to bash ministers or the Government, but I would close by recommending that Minister N. Henry pay a little more attention to her ministry, because quite a lot is spiralling out of control; which would not have been the case if competent people were doing the work that we, the taxpayers, pay for.
I now close by stating that I hope other Guyanese like me would spend some time shedding light on the injustices that we receive at the hands of our fellow Guyanese; for it begs the question: With oil on the way, will it get any better for us?