* land was never advertised
* govt.’s loader rented illegally to private company
The attempted secret sale of playground at Republic Park, East Bank Demerara, which led to an Overseer being sent home, has prompted several other allegations of illegality at the Eccles/Ramsburg Neighbourhood Democratic Council (NDC).
Yesterday, sources close to the investigations said that a government-owned Bobcat equipment was illegally rented to an East Bank Demerara company (name given) by the NDC and this information has since been handed over to the Ministry of Local Government. The company allegedly paid the Overseer personally for using the equipment.
News broke on Friday that the Overseer, David Sugrim, was sent home last week Monday by Minister of Local Government, Kellawan Lall after a businessman complained to President Bharrat Jagdeo that an unused playground located at Republic Park had been placed on sale without being advertised.
This newspaper was also told yesterday that the land was never advertised for sale. Rather, tender documents were made available at the NDC office, Peter’s Hall, and nine bids for the property were made.
The piece of land is several acres and would have been worth millions of dollars to any developer because of its prime location in one of Guyana’s most exclusive neighbourhoods.
It was after the complaint was made to the President that Minister Lall, reportedly investigating the transaction, stopped the sale and seized the documents. The Overseer was sent home.
On Friday, Lall said that no permission was sought from him to sell the land and based on this, he sent the official home.
The Minister disclosed that he was still considering what action to take against the Chairman of the NDC, S.A. Khan.
Residents, familiar with the playground, said that it had been unused for the longest while despite attempts by business persons and a cricket club to develop it. This was despite applications to the NDC under which jurisdiction it falls.
Several residents who spoke to this newspaper voiced displeasure over the operations of the NDC and called for an all-out audit.
“It is a mess there. I know of residents and business people being bullied for money to pass their building plans. Further they are selling out sand and stone that are to be used for work, to private people. Then to top it all, they breaking de rules. The present Chairman is not resident in the area. How in the world could this be? He has a house in Diamond.”
According to a prominent businessman, the NDC had also controversially sold land to M&M Snackette and passed plans to build a three-storey building at the Peter’s Hall location.
“This is the same NDC that turned back and filed an injunction. Why would you sell the land and then give permission to build and then override the decision after the man would have spent millions?”
Almost two weeks ago, it was also reported that a road building crew discovered water in drums that were supposed to contain asphalt.
The NDC had reportedly paid $48,000 per drum. The overseer later reported that the water-based asphalt was not properly mixed.
He said that the switch to CRS2, the water-based asphalt, was intended to reduce costs. It meant that the council did not need a piece of machinery to melt the asphalt nor did it have to undertake the risky task of boiling tar at the side of the road.
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