Geeta hot on Benn’s heels

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… submits several categories of questions to him pending answers in the National Assembly

Even as Minister of Home Affairs, Robeson Benn grapples with backlash from the poor response to fire that flattened the Brickdam Police Station last weekend, Opposition Member of Parliament (MP) Geeta Chandan-Edmond has sent several questions his way on additional areas of concern.

On Wednesday afternoon, the Opposition updated the media on 12 notice papers of questions that were submitted for answers in the National Assembly. Seven of these were directed at Benn from Geeta Chandan-Edmond while the remaining were directed at other Ministers from Opposition MP, Nima Flue-Bess.

LUSIGNAN PRISON
In the questions submitted by Chandan-Edmond, Benn was pressed to answer several questions, one of which involves the reconstruction of the Lusignan Prison.

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The Opposition MP put forward that while it has been reported that the Ministry of Home Affairs signed a 1.2-billion contract for the reconstruction of the Lusignan Prison under the Guyana Prison Service (GPS), her party would like to know whether there was a public bidding process for the award of the contract and whether the awardee(s) was/were prequalified.

She also asked the Minister to state the name of the contractor(s) awarded; what experience the contractor has in the construction or reconstruction of prisons; which entity was responsible for the evaluation and recommendation of the awards of the contracts and what criteria were used in the pre-qualification and qualification process.

The MP queried too whether any of the companies awarded contracts have any pending litigation against the Government of Guyana, or whether the Government of Guyana has any pending litigation against the principal(s) of these companies?

Months ago, Benn said that the new facility, expected to hold 600 prisoners, will enable rehabilitation and education of offenders.

SECURITY SERVICES
Meanwhile, regarding the award of government contracts for the provision of security services, Chandan-Edmond wants Benn to be transparent on the companies awarded Government contracts for the provision of security services since August 2, 2020, when the Administration took office.

She questioned what percentage of the total budgeted allocations have been expended on the award of these security contracts; whether inspections were done at the security companies and how frequent they were carried out; and the names of contractors who were awarded security contracts prior to August 2020 but breached the terms and conditions of their contracts.

Still on the matter of security contracts, the Opposition MP pressed Benn on the value of sums outstanding by contractor(s) for any contract(s) breached and/or terminated; the value of each Government contract for the provision of security services, the date of award and the duration of these contracts under your sector.

She asked that the Minister also provide information on whether the tenders for the awarding of these security contracts were publicly advertised; whether the awardees were pre-qualified and more.

The vetting process established by the Ministry for persons employed and authorised to carry firearms in these companies was also a matter raised by Chandan-Edmond.

OTHER QUESTIONS
In addition, the Opposition MP also raised questions and concerns about the death of 45-year-old Sewdial Persaud, a prisoner who was found hanging in the Number 51 Police Station lock-up on June 17, 2021.

In a separate document, she questioned the protocols in place when a suspect is found dead in a police station while in custody.

Community Policing Groups (CPGs) were also a focus of Chandan-Edmond as she questioned whether they were set up as a result of an increase in crime and in which community new groups were set up.



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