– says erected by Co-op member without NDC approval
Region Three (Essequibo Islands/West Demerara)’s Representative from the Prime Minister’s Office, Harry
Narine Deokinanan, has been carrying out an investigation for months now since the questionable construction of a massive building within the parameters of the Leonora Market, West Coast Demerara (WCD) came up on his radar.
However, upon investigating, he found that because of the building being there, some of the vendors had resorted to illegal vending along the thoroughfare, and along the main bridge leading into the market from the eastern end.
Deokinanan says that the building was erected without the approval of the Neighbourhood Democratic Council (NDC) by a member of the community’s Co-op Society.
Reports have indicated that prior to erecting the building; the individual had sought assistance from fellow members, among others, to purchase spots within the market.
According to a document seen by this publication, a former Chairman of the Co-op Society had written a letter to the then Minister within the Ministry of Communities, Keith Scott, informing him that the aforementioned member had requested that he purchase two spots in the market to erect a building. The letter had indicated that one spot is equivalent to six feet (length) by eight feet (width) which costs $8000.
The former Chairman subsequently agreed to the member’s request and 12 spots were bought. Construction of the building began sometime in late 2014.
Another document which emanated from the Stewartville/Cornelia Ida Neighbourhood Democratic Council (NDC) was provided to Kaieteur News which stated that no permission was given to the Leonora Market Society to construct any structure within the market.
When contacted on Tuesday to verify the authenticity of the document, the Chairman of the NDC, Jainarine Narine, stated that no construction plan was submitted to the NDC.
Narine, who recently took up the post of Chairman after the 2016 Local Government Elections (LGEs), was quizzed on whether the building was being erected illegally or not. He stated that before any green light is given for the erection of any structure, a plan along with an accompanying request has to be submitted. However, this was not the case and because of this, the building was illegally constructed.
Another source within the NDC, who requested anonymity, stated that the dimensions of both the land and the building could not be determined due to the NDC’s inability to gain access to the premises.
However, according to the PM’s Representative, the Co-op member now owns 65 spots and using the former Co-op Chairman’s figures provided to the Minister, the dimensions of both land and building, could be ascertained.
In this case, the plot of land comprising the 65 spots, is equivalent to 3120 sq.ft and would have cost $520,000. Kaieteur News understands that the building was constructed on 12 of the 65 spots – equivalent to 576 sq. ft
Meanwhile, a former Treasurer who had reported several irregularities at the Society to Minister Scott, via letters, told Kaieteur News that on one occasion, the “offending member” was one of the signatories in the approval of $100,000 to be paid to a contractor for drainage works at the market.
The former Treasurer recounted that upon examining the voucher and other correspondence, he noticed that something was amiss. He subsequently visited the NDC where the Overseer revealed that cost of the works was footed by the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA). A special meeting was held subsequently where the two approving signatories were advised to replace the monies. However, the matter was closed.
Commenting further on the matter, the PM’s Representative said, “My recommendation to solve this matter is (to) let the Co-op Officers set up an election for new office bearers since these two are corrupt. Vendors and members do not trust them.”
He posited that the market space can be managed better by collaborative efforts by the relevant authorities and those ‘illegal’ vendors from the road can be brought into the market.
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