Sep 15, 2014 Letters
We have often wondered why Guyana does not have a Ministry of Waste Management. This does not have to do with solid waste disposal but with the wanton abuse and misuse of the country’s finances and resources by the PPP regime. Too often, the Jagdeo/Ramotar cabal because of no meaningful recourse for accountability or sanctions, has appointed a number of unqualified PPP apparatchiks to senior government positions.
They have also given contracts to unqualified and inexperienced contractors, most of whom are their friends and relatives. In other words, they are responsible for putting square pegs in round holes and expect to have positive results.
And, what is worst, they will continue to give the same contractors more contracts despite their poor performance and substandard work. And to add insult to injury, they will praise the contractors despite complaints by the residents.
For example, take road repairs. Every year, billions of dollars of borrowed money, which has to be repaid by the taxpayers, are spent on repairing or resurfacing roadways across the country by contractors, many without experience or proper knowledge of how to repair/resurface roads. It is generally understood that a well-paved road would remain in good condition for at least five years.
The 45 mile Linden-Soesdyke Highway which was built in 1969 by the reputable contractor B.B. McCormick and Sons is still in very good condition with a few holes here and there, but overall, it is still intact. Now, a road that is built or repaired today rarely lasts three months before huge potholes begin to appear. Why? It is clear that the regime is only interested in getting kick-backs from these unqualified and inexperienced contractors.
Of course, there is a very close relationship that exists between contractors and the minority PPP regime. Almost daily on national television channels there are demonstrations by angry residents bemoaning the terrible state of their roads in Lethem, Kwakwani, Linden and other areas.
And the Government, especially the relevant minister, not to mention the DO-NOTHING president, do not take the blame for the shoddy works done by the contractors. It follows, therefore, that the PPP cabal does not care whether or not the roads are repaired properly; all they are interested in is getting kick-backs from the contractors. They are recklessly wasting the taxpayers’ money. In other words, they put their financial interests first and the people and country last.
As such, the PPP is expected to benefit most from the contractors in the form of kick-backs and by the time the project is finished, corners have to be cut and the taxpayer is short-changed during the process because of wanton corruption. In this context, very often the road works do not necessarily follow the original and prescribed specifications.
Cambering is not done so that the rainwater can run off easily from the surface into the gutters and drains, less and inexpensive surfacing material is used and, in many instances, no proper drainage is put in place. And there is hardly any quality control mechanism in place to ensure that, at the end of the project, there is value for the taxpayers’ money.
Very few road projects are finished on time and within budget. Overruns and prolonged delays are the order of the day. Who pays for this? The taxpayer of course. Another vexing problem is that whenever the residents stage demonstrations against such poor works, the police are directed by their political bosses to arrest them.
The PPP is no stranger to waste and scandals, as repeatedly it has been revealed that some 60-odd per cent of the money allocated for road repairs go to waste every year. The bottom line is that theft, waste and corruption are eating away at the nation’s ability to become sufficiently economically independent, and the PPP is not doing anything to decapitate this three-headed monster.
The Jagdeo/Ramotar cabal has offered only lip service; very little by way of consistent, persistent, and courageous action has taken place. For one thing, it would mean the end of kickbacks from the contractors and the expending of much-needed political capital at the government level. After all, it is no secret that much of the waste in this country is to be found in the granting of contracts to friends and relatives of the PPP.
Fip Motitall was given a US$15 government contract to build the Amalia Falls road despite the fact that he had absolutely no experience in road building. He did not complete the job and this cost the taxpayers more than $US10 million. And the PPP has recently terminated the contract to build the Specialty Hospital with Surendra Engineering at a cost of roughly US$.8 million, again at the expense of the taxpayers. The truth is if the greedy PPP cabal could cut the amount of waste in the country, the savings would be enormous, which could then be used to provide many well-needed goods and services, free University education, and better health and social services.
Regrettably, it is very difficult to quantify the amount of waste in Guyana, as it is intertwined with massive corruption, inefficiencies, lack of oversight, as well as the lack of transparency and accountability by the PPP regime.
Tragically, there is another area of waste that continues to plague Guyana, and that is in the area of human development. The sad truth is that the skills and talents of so many of our young men and women are going to waste because they are unemployed due to no fault of their own. We are confident that such massive waste and corruption will end soon when the PPP is defeated at the polls.
Dr. Reginald Watkins
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