…Payment made to contractor questioned
The Region 4 (Demerara/Mahaica) administration has dispatched a letter to the Ministry of Communities requesting disciplinary action be taken against an engineer overseeing the construction of the Eccles and Supply Health Centres on the East Bank of Demerara.
Regional Executive Officer (REO), Pauline Lucas last Thursday informed the Regional Democratic Council (RDC) about her decision to write the Ministry about the performance of engineer, Yogesh Narain.
Officials became concerned after a payment was authorised by the engineer for the construction of the Eccles Health Centre without the approval and knowledge of the REO.
The contract for the Eccles Health Centre is $27M. The project should have been completed in June, but work is still ongoing.
Kaieteur News understands that works recently started on the health centre at Supply, which has a contract cost of $30.1M. The region became concerned following interventions from the Clerk of Works, who raised questions about the quality of work being done.
According to regional officials, about three weeks ago, the contractor, with the blessing of the engineer, poured concrete for the floor of the health centre against the recommendation of the Clerk of Works.
Further, regional officials have also questioned the engineer over his intervention in projects while on leave.
As recent as June, accounting officials were appalled over the performance of Region Four engineers, during a meeting of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC). It was revealed that contractors were being overpaid.
Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Communities, Emil McGarrell, had explained further that the issue of overpayment stemmed from the fact that the engineer had just returned from a scholarship programme and lacked the kind of experience to handle such matters properly.
Chairman of the PAC, Irfaan Ali, had noted that tremendous issues are coming out of the regional administrations in relation to the engineering officers. He called on the REO to ensure that there is proper supervision of the engineers.
Last April, at a meeting of the PAC, it was noted that the accounting officers were not implementing measures to avoid the recurrence of overpayment in its entirety.
The PAC said that accounting officers and engineering staff appear to persistently sign off on incomplete projects. It noted that this is not a matter that affects one budget agency, but all.
The issue of overpayment was even noted by Auditor General Deodat Sharma in his latest report. He viewed it as a matter of “grave concern.”
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