Oct 09, 2016 News
Weeks after several back and forth, the Guyana Water Inc. (GWI) is moving to recoup an estimated $200M that it says is owed by Queens Atlantic Investments Inc. (QAII), a group of companies under the direction of Dr. Ranjisinghi ‘Bobby’ Ramroop.
According to GWI officials, the state-owned entity is convinced, based on several documents, that the well, located at QAII compound, Ruimveldt, was never transferred to QAII.
The well serves over 9,000 customers in the Ruimveldt, Meadow Bank and Alexander Village area.
Recently, the nation heard that the well was transferred to QAII when the Bharrat Jagdeo administration leased and then sold the Sanata complex in a privatization deal that was described as a sweetheart one.
According to documents seen by Kaieteur News, in 2002, former Minister of Housing and Water, Shaik Baksh, signed an order under the Water and Sewerage Act vesting several properties into GWI.
GWI’s Schedule of Fixed Assets lists the Sanata well as belonging to the state entity. There is other evidence too that suggests that the well is GWI’s.
For example, in the records of the Privatisation Unit/National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL), the state entity that handled the deal, there are several references to the well.
In one case, it speaks of a Memorandum of Understanding between G&C Sanata, the Georgetown Sewerage and Water Commissioners (GS&WC) and NICIL. GS&WC is the predecessor of GWI.
According to the NICIL documents, GS&WC took possession of the well in 1996, starting to manage its operations from then. The water from the well was for public consumption.
There is no evidence of the well being privatized to Sanata.
GWI recently said that it has been spending $3M monthly on electricity bills for the well.
GWI technicians had to access the well through QAII’s compound.
While GWI’s Managing Director, Dr. Richard Van West Charles had initially signaled intentions to go after QAII for outstanding monies, his board had issued a statement stating the well belongs to QAII and that GWI will continue to pay the electricity bill with the complex to continue receiving free water.
Ramroop is a close friend of former President Bharrat Jagdeo under whose rule the 18-plus acres property was privatized. He was also associated with now resigned Chairman of the GWI Board, Nigel Hinds.
The issue came to the fore several weeks ago when GWI technicians, reportedly as part of its drive to collect over $5B owed by consumers- domestic and commercial- across the country, started to conduct checks at QAII.
However, the GWI technicians were reportedly stopped by their management when they started investigations..”
GWI officials had insisted that while the well is in the compound of QAII, GWI has always maintained control of the well, ever since the 1970s when it was built.
It was emphasised that GWI technicians visit the well every day.
Asked why he ordered the GWI to leave the Ruimveldt compound, the Managing Director said he was asked by the Chairman of the Board, Nigel Hinds, to stay his hand.
When contacted, Hinds disclosed that indeed he asked Van-West Charles to cease the inspections at the complex as there were questions over the ownership of the well. Also there was the very real scenario of the visit being seen as retaliation.
The order to stand down came one day after the technicians had visited the site and not immediately, Hinds stressed.
The Chairman of the Board was also questioned about the possibility that his order for technicians to cease investigations would raise eyebrows over the fact that the sports organization over which he presides, the Guyana Amateur Basketball Federation (GABF), was recently sponsored by New GPC, a subsidiary of QAII.
Hinds is the President of GABF and a well-known auditor.
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