Tony Vieira's Comments
18 October 2017

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Corruption
(Aired 31 May 2004)

   I receive a lot of letters every week; these letters began since I started doing these commentaries in June 2001. They are not properly documented accounts of events, but most of them outline in one way or the other the levels of depravity we have sunk to in this country. Tonight I want to read one of these letters to you, it comes from a man in Region 6 and it states;

   Dear Sir, [that's me] I wish to congratulate you on the many bold and informative view points given.

  I would be grateful if you could fit in the future how the man in the street sees the Region 6 administration.

  There is corruption at levels beyond imagination! There is cover up in high places! There is a lot of compromises in the Tender Board and Work committees!

  A certain high official received a generator lighting plant from a contractor in favour of contracts, a member of the tender board received 25 gallons of paint from a contractor in favour of contract, another official who deals with school uniforms favoured only certain stores with contracts.

  A certain Engineer would give estimates to favourite contractors who in turn make large donations, contractors recover pay for work not completed, pilfering of fuel especially in Black Bush polder and Manarbisi, misuse of vehicles and many more. Thanking you etc. signed "man in the street".

     This "man in the street" in Region 6 has the feeling that something is very wrong in that Region with regards to contracts, an electrical plant bribe here, a 25 gallons of paint bribe there, but what he does not understand is that this is only the tip of the iceberg he is seeing, the corruption goes far, far deeper; the loss to the Guyanese people is far, far graver; to illustrate this let's examine another letter from this same region 6 and let's see how big the iceberg really is.

  The letter addressed to the Regional Chairman Region 6 states that a two hundred foot long revetment has been completed at Manarbisi/Seaforth by a contractor who is allegedly a friend of the Regional Chairman. The writer, a member of the RPA, hopes that this is not true, but he makes the assertion nonetheless, so this corruption can go all the way up to the Chairman of Region 6 himself, if indeed the contractor is his "friend". Here are the allegations.

    1. Whilst the contract specified that 12 inch by 12 inch green heart wood piles should be used and which cost 1,560 dollars a foot, the contractor used round piles which cost 350 dollars per foot.

   2. The contract specifies that green heart wailers and sheet piling should be used which costs 130 dollars per BM, the contractor used second quality Mora which costs 45 dollars per BM.

  3. The length of the main piles was noted to be one third less than what is specified in the contract. i.e. they were 33 % less than the specifications.   

  4. The main piles and the sheet piles are fewer than what was specified in the contract.

 5. The writer also asks who gave the D&I engineer permission to vary this contract in such a gross manner from what the neighbourhood council awarded.

 The writer also asserts that the money paid for this contract was not cut to accommodate these gross deviations from what was awarded.

   The letter is signed and is copied to a number of persons including the President, Tony Vieira and Mr. Ravi Dev.

    This is not about a lighting plant and 25 gallons of paint, this is about awarding contracts and turning a blind eye to, and accepting variations from contracts amounting to millions of dollars in each contract, leaving you the tax payers to pay several million dollars for something that costs a few hundred thousand dollars.

   The functioning of Local Government is supposed to conform to the act 28.02 as laid out in the laws of Guyana, the Neighbourhood Councils, District councils and the Regional Councils should be following the rules that are so diligently laid out in these local government laws, none of them do.

   I have documentation in my possession that the chairman of the Klien Pouderoyen Best neighbourhood council, personally, without consulting his council, issued 18 permits to build structures, houses, shops, additions to existing buildings etc. which members of the council never even heard of, and is not recorded in any of the minutes of the council. When structures that are illegal are pointed out to him, he delays investigation and action, until the construction is complete and nothing can be done about it.

   To my utter astonishment I heard that the neighbourhood councils of Grove and Haslingington in Region 4 on instruction of Ministers Nocta and Collymore are to be investigated for corrupt practices, now these neighbourhoods are in Region four controlled by the PNC, is this why these are the only ones being investigated? What about the numerous cases of corruption reported daily by citizens around the country? I think that there is enough evidence to make the allegation that the PPP do not investigate incidence of wrongdoing in the areas which are their strongholds for fear of embarrassing themselves and their supporters, if true then it is a sad day for this country and it is why our nation is so poor whilst a few are getting super rich the majority are falling deeper into the chasm of want. By all means lock up the corrupt PNC councillors, but lock up the corrupt PPP ones too.

    Of the 75.6 Billion allocated in our national budget to this nation for 2004 almost one third of it will be stolen by one person or the other, paying big money for substandard work, getting kickbacks for granting contracts to people who are incompetent to do these works, paying for work that was not actually done, in other words paying for a Rolls Royce and getting a mini bus.  And it is not only happening in the regions; the situation in the central government is worse, hydraulic engineers parading as structural engineers are designing bridges such as the new one over the Maichony river where the entire north-eastern side has collapsed before a single vehicle has gone on it, a  failure which is being covered up by the government.

  And the East Bank road! we have been seeing work on this 4 lane highway going on for nearly 9 years; now that we are having heavy rainfall in the month of May and which will in all probability continue into June which I told you in a previous commentary would probably happen for the next few years, the work continues to be done in the rain, we have had over 35 inches of rain on that East Bank road in the month of May alone this year, but construction kept going on, compromising the structural integrity of whatever disaster they are building there, this is the only place on the planet earth where we make hay when the rain is falling, after all the months of dry weather it is only now, in the rainfall season, that we are working day and night Saturday & Sunday. What are we rushing to do? Finish before the rain stops?  Or is there some other reason? For example if the work stops the kickbacks also stop!