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Large amounts of emergency contracts were doled out over the last couple of weeks for infrastructure work on water management. How much money has been spent on emergency work? Were money properly spent? Who got the contracts? Is/was there incestuous relationship with senior officials of Ministries of Agriculture, Local Government, and Works? Were the companies or individuals qualified or competent to conduct the work? Was work actually done to satisfaction? Did they meet minimum standards? It is noted that two companies were contracted to do the bulk of the work on the Corentyne? Why were these companies favoured? Was/is there any connection between the contractors and line ministers and assistants? An audit can answer these questions.
Auditors should also look at some individuals who have been working closely with the Minister of Agriculture and Chairman Lionel Wordsworth of NDIA. The companies of Peter Lewis and D. Sawh are chosen for a lot of work. What are their ties with the Agriculture Minister? How much work was awarded to Dr. Drain Digger?
The Agriculture Ministry has contracted the use of a pontoon that was sub-contracted from another contractor for 10 times the cost. The sub-contractor has been denied a direct contract from NDIA but rents his pontoon for more than ten times the amount he normally charged the Ministry. Rates being paid by senior officials of the Ministry must be audited.
The fees being paid for emergency work should be compared with costs during normal time. Also, the rates being paid for emergency work on the Corentyne should be compared with those of contractors in other parts of the country affected by flood. As an illustration, a 320 excavator goes for 20K an hour for government work. Should it be several times that amount now? Would it not have been better to have ongoing infrastructure work to plan for flooding rather than wait when the floods come and then expensive on expensive emergency work as is being done now? Would it now have been better if contractors who normally do the work were engaged? Would it not have been faster and more effective to mitigate flooding of utilising several contractors instead of favouring only two or a mere handful of contractors on the Corentyne?
When the flood is over, a commission of inquiry should be conducted in how it was handled. In the meantime, expenditures should be audited to rein in cost and minimise fraud. Those who exploit the emergency situation should be brought to account.
Jagnarine K Singh