Speaking against the cancer of corruption

first_imgDear Editor,During the last General Election campaign, we have heard about the many varied facets of corruption allegedly perpetrated by the previous Government and there was even a corruption debate on the National Communications Network (NCN) which the A Partnership for National Unity refused to participate. They probably felt that the debate itself is ‘corrupted’ and that they need to sit on the moral high ground or were afraid of questions of corruption under the People’s National Congress era in Government.It must be recalled that one of the pledges made to the people of Guyana was to wipe out corruption as it relates to procurement. An Alliance For Change leader had said on a Berbice TV channel that ’kickback’ accounts for more than 20 per cent of the contract cost and at the time it seemed a well-educated guess. His party vowed to eradicate this type of corruption. Unfortunately, the Public Procurement Commission can now be regarded as impotent against the tsunami of procurement corruption and the Public Infrastructure Ministry and the Government itself seem to have given a free rein to the corruptors.As a Regional Councillor, it is my duty to speak against the cancer of corruption which is engulfing and spreading in Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne) at an alarming rate with no solutions in sight. I had written extensively about the allegedly corrupt bulldozer deal but despite assurances from the Regional Executive Officer (REO) that the decrepit piece of machine will be sent packing, it is still to this day ensconced next to the entrance of the Regional Democratic Council (RDC) Office at Vrymens Erven at New Amsterdam. The REO had said the supplier had signed a bond to the value of $15 million and should the supplier fail to replace the bulldozer then that bond will be forfeited. At the last RDC meeting when I raised the matter, the ‘bond’ seemed a distant memory. Unfortunately, the REO was not present at that meeting.Another area of corruption is substandard and poorly executed works. Recently, an emergency contract was given for excavation works at the mouth of the #43 Channel. The fishing boats at #43 were stranded due to the fact that the canal and the mouth of the channel is heavily silted making it impassable for a large number of boats to go fishing and for those which have already gone out to sea to return with their catches. This situation has been festering for over one month now. Those boats which are out have to use the Eversham channel to offload their catches and reload. Several complaints were made by these fishermen and after a long period and much financial losses to the fishermen, the NDIA invited quotations for the excavation of the mouth of the channel.An experienced contractor who has the capacity to do the job was selectively sidelined even though he was asked to submit a quotation. The fishermen explained to me that they were told that the emergency work was given to a contractor who lacked the capacity to do the job since he does not have the dredging equipment to do it effectively. They claimed it was quite humorous when the contractor showed up with 12 men and two shovels sitting idly, looking at the blockade and contemplating their next move.Moreover, they pointed out that the excavation of the creek to the channel was done by the same contractor who dug both sides and leave the middle which resulted in rapid resilting. Since May 2017, this was done two times at the cost of $8 million each. It was also done once in 2016 for $8 million as well. This canal seems to be a milking cow for the said contractor. The fishermen said if this contractor cannot excavate a canal properly, they cannot fathom how he is going to excavate the embankment at the mouth of the channel. This is another area of corruption where certain contractors who refused to give ‘kickbacks’ are rejected. The best bribers are given the contracts, not the best man to do the job.What is also eating away the quality of work done is the deliberate under-bidding for contracts. Some contractors, through inside information, know exactly how low they should bid. In doing, so they effectively erode their profit margins and when this is compounded with the inevitable ‘kickback’, the result is substandard work which again will be subjected to bribery to ensure it passes certification. The Public Infrastructure Ministry is turning a blind eye to this since cronies and families are allegedly involved.Political commitment is a necessary condition to eradicate corruption in awarding contracts, certifying works completed and rejecting substandard works. There is a clear misuse of public office and Region Six is losing tens of millions each year due to this form of corruption. We simply cannot get value for money.In conclusion, contracts must be awarded to only those contractors who can be certified that they have met anti-corruption commitments and this means establishing a system to identify these corrupt contractors and at the same time award contracts to those contractors who have the capacity and are incorruptible. On the other hand, those found guilty of corruption should be dealt – feeling the full brunt of the law and debarred for life.Yours sincerely,Haseef YusufRDC Councillor,Region Sixlast_img

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