Tuesday, August 25, 2009

KNews given ‘run around’

KNews given ‘run around’
August 25, 2009 | By KNews | Filed Under News

The Ministry of Agriculture responded promptly to the front page photograph carried in our August 24 issue.

Kaieteur News commends the prompt response, said its management.

Noting this, though, the management is in puzzlement as to why the Agriculture Ministry has not seen it fit to respond in like manner to requests for a financial breakdown on all contracts being executed by the ministry, through the Agriculture Sector Development Unit (ASDU) and the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA).

For more than a month, according to its editor, this publication has simply asked the Chief Executive Officer of the NDIA, Lionel Wordsworth via email, for a breakdown of these multi-million dollar contracts.

Yet, to date, details of only two projects have been released—namely the $78.2 M Stanleytown Pump Station and the $154 million De Willem Sluice.

In the documents supplied to this newspaper by the NDIA for the De Willem Sluice, the Ministry did not release the engineer’s estimate of the project, but rather referred the reporter to the National Procurement and Tender Board for the engineer’s estimate.

The Tender Board has since told this newspaper that all documents relating to contracts are returned to the Ministry of Agriculture. Kaieteur News therefore is still awaiting the engineer’s estimate of that project.

Also on the list of which a breakdown has been requested for by this newspaper are the details of the Liliendaal Pumps that are being repaired at a cost of $76.2 million.

When this publication visited the site approximately one month ago, it was observed that one of the two pumps was in mint condition and was operational while the other with weathering, rust and gaping holes, was an eyesore.

When this newspaper spoke to a man at that site, he confirmed that the works were incomplete.

He said that some works had started and after the completion of the number two pump the works came to a halt to allow for the CARICOM Heads meeting.

As watchdogs for the taxpayers, the editor said, the newspaper awaits the financial breakdown of the works and costing for the pump.

It is also awaiting the workmanship costs as well. This is being done in the interest of ensuring value for money received, the editor said.

“Is that too much to ask of Mr. Minister and other officials?” the editor queried.

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