Jagdeo calls for charges to be laid

first_imgCorrupt DHB contractOpposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo has lamented that almost four months after the investigation was completed into the award of a sole-sourced contract for a feasibility study into the construction of the new Demerara River Bridge, no charges have yet been instituted.Opposition Leader Bharrat JagdeoThe contract in question was awarded to Dutch company LievenseCSO for a feasibility study into the new bridge. A probe conducted by the Public Procurement Commission (PPC), upon request from the People’s Progressive Party/Civic(PPP/C), had flagged Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson for requesting from Cabinet that the $148 million contract be sole-sourced instead of being processed through the Procurement Board as the law says should be done.As a result of the findings, the Opposition last August asked the Guyana Police Force’s Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) to investigate the PPC’s findings.According to Jagdeo, that probe was completed since January this year and the file was handed over to the Police Legal Advisor for advice and to date, there is no update as to what is happening with the matter.“So, from January to now, on a project that is totally corrupt – where the probe was completed – we haven’t seen any single charge laid against the Minister. He should have been charged by now and before the courts for corruption. The same minister who welcomes the probe and doesn’t know there are probes taking place,” the Opposition Leader said at his recent media briefing.Public Infrastructure Minister David PattersonPointing out that Patterson has a lot to answer for regarding controversial projects under his Ministry, Jagdeo, a former President, outlined that the matter was not being pushed with the alacrity it requires but had it been a PPP Minister then the response would have been different.“Since January, the Police completed the probe … and every week, the media asks when you’re gonna charge some of the PPP people, but what about Patterson? They should be asking the Police “when do you intend to charge.” We are now almost approaching May and they finish the probe since January (but nothing has come out yet),” he stated.On March 29, Guyana Times contacted SOCU Head Sydney James for an update on the matter, but he hung up the phone.Recent efforts by this newspaper to contact him again as well as other senior officers of the Police Force on the probe into the sole-sourced contract were futile.Nevertheless, Minister Patterson last month had indicated to this publication that he understood that SOCU has concluded its investigations, but he was uncertain of the findings.However, the Public Infrastructure Minister noted that the project for the new bridge is expected to come up at the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board (NPTAB) soon.According to him, “That is supposed to be a public-private partnership. It’s being piloted at the moment, reviewed by the public-private unit under the Ministry of Finance with the help from the [Caribbean Development Bank] CDB and obviously that will go to tender shortly.”Based on a complaint filed by then Opposition Chief Whip, Gail Teixeira, the Procurement Commission completed its investigation into the award of the contract for a feasibility study on a new Demerara River bridge and handed its report over on August 7, 2018. The report noted that several companies had bid for the project to do the feasibility study and design for the new Demerara River bridge and 12 companies had been shortlisted.It further outlined that only two of the 12 companies had made proposals. As such, the bidding process was annulled. It added that on November 12, 2016, the Tender Administration Board approved the move for the project to be re-tendered. The project was not re-tendered; instead, Dutch company LievenseCSO was engaged by the Public Infrastructure Ministry to do the work.Page seven of the report noted that the bid from LievenseCSO was “unsolicited”, but Patterson took the company’s proposal to Cabinet for approval, and Cabinet granted its approval for the company to be engaged. The report, on page seven, stated that monies to be spent on the project were taken from the Demerara Harbour Bridge Corporation (Asphalt Plant Accounts).It was subsequently announced that SOCU would be investigating the matter. Patterson submitted a statement to the investigative unit in September 2018, although this was criticised as the Opposition said the same standard utilised for questioning its members should apply to Government.Around that time, Opposition politicians were being questioned at SOCU headquarters over other matters.last_img read more