Apr 05, 2019 News
Having built our reputation on the publication of some hard-hitting, investigative stories as well as heart-warming ones, we at Kaieteur News, on the occasion of our 25th anniversary, bring to you recaps of a few of the major stories we’d brought to you over the years.
With breaking stories ranging from crime to health and politics, we take you down memory lane as we ask you to celebrate with us yet another year of media work, of keeping the people of Guyana in the know.
Kaieteur News’ first major story made everyone sit up and take notice and led to the weekly publication to be sold out in the mid 90s.
Doctor accused of raping abortion
patients charged, stripped of licence
In April 1997, a 25-year-old woman contacted Kaieteur News with the disturbing claim of having been raped at the private clinic by a gynaecologist Dr. Rama Sahadeo. This had happened when she went there to have an abortion.
After Kaieteur News carried that story, several other young women came forward with similar accusations against the same doctor. They spoke about being sexually assaulted after being given an anesthetic which left them helpless to defend themselves. One alleged that she was 17 at the time.
At least two other doctors were accused of sexual misconduct. One was also a gynecologist (Dr. Manickchand), now deceased. The other was an ear, nose and throat specialist.
The women, accusing Dr. Sahadeo and Dr. Manickchand, claimed that they kept their ordeals secret out of shame, but came forward after realizing that they were not the only victims.
One victim had made a report against Sahadeo in 1987, and he was charged but acquitted.
Some were furious that Kaieteur News was exposing the wrongdoing of this prominent individual. We were also subjected to some ridicule.
But we were vindicated when, two months later, the accused doctor was charged with rape.
However, he left the country on the very day that he was scheduled to appear in court.
He was then stripped of his medical licence.
Kaieteur News’ Eccles printery fire-bombed
In late 2002, Kaieteur News printery in Eccles, East Bank Demerara, was attacked with grenades thrown. It damaged the press and forced the newspaper to print elsewhere. It was the beginning of many challenges faced by the newspaper over the years.
Five Kaieteur News staff executed – two critical
In 2006, the country was rocked after eight persons were killed, including five Kaieteur News press employees as gunmen opened fire simultaneously in Buxton, East Coast Demerara, Bagotstown and at the newspaper’s press room aback Eccles.
One of the Kaieteur News survivors, Haimchand Harripersaud, said the guard at the gate to the printery shouted “Gunmen coming” and the workers rushed to the back of the press room as 10 gunmen descended on the Eccles operation. Three of them hid in the lavatory while another sought refuge in a locker room.
The gunmen shot the guard, Julius Degrace, and forced their way into the building where they confronted two of the workers.
They demanded that the others come out from hiding and of the three, two came from the lavatory. Another was pulled from the locker. The guard survived and is in hospital.
The gunmen placed them face down on the floor. The survivor said that from his hiding place he heard someone said, “Kill them.”
Gunshots rang out. He said that from his hiding place he could see nothing. When it was over he saw five of his colleagues face down. They had all been shot in the head execution style.
Dead are Mark Maikoo, Chitram ‘Boyo’ Persaud, Eon Wigman and Richard Stuart. Shazim Mohamed passed away hours later
Berbice Bridge owned by close friends of Jagdeo
One of the major stories that dominated the news was the financing structure of the Berbice Bridge. Commissioned in late 2008, and initially seen as a boon to Berbicians, it was later found that the floating structure, costing US$40M was largely built using monies from that National Insurance Scheme and New Building Society but was taken control of by friends of the former President Bharrat Jagdeo. They put in a few millions.
For a few millions, New GPC and other companies were able to stack the Board of Directors with their own people. The rate of returns and tolls charged were seen as extremely high with the Coalition Government taking the decision to introduce a subsidy to help lower tolls in 2016.
The Coalition Government has taken control of the bridge after it was found that the company has not been servicing the structure in keeping with its maintenance programme.
In 2009, the PPP/C government under Bharrat Jagdeo commissioned the Skeldon sugar factory insisting that it was supposed to save the industry.
The US$200M price tag to also improve the canefields did not justify the failures of the Chinese-built factory which instead of saving the industry, was sucking money by the tens of millions to fix the many flaws.
Today, the rapid decline of the industry has been blamed on what has been described as a white elephant. The Coalition Government has invited expressions of interest from local and overseas investors to take control of it.
Amaila Falls road to nowhere cost US$40M-plus
-contractor has no history of construction
-US$1B hydro project halted
One of the major stories that Kaieteur News was on top of was the awarding of a US$15M road contract to US-based Guyanese, Fip Motielall whose company Synergy Holdings had little or no history of construction.
The access roads in the hinterland would have linked the coast to the Amaila Falls hydro site in Region Eight but inexperience and rough terrain caused delays and eventually the costs ballooned to US$40M.
Under pressure from the reporting of Synergy Holdings, the previous administration of the PPP/C terminated the contract.
The entire hydro project was also under question because of costs.
In 2013, the then Opposition, in Coalition, voted down two pieces of legislations – the Hydro Electric Power (Amendment) Bill 2013, and Limit on amount outstanding under Guarantees given under the Guarantee of Loans (Public Corporations and Companies) Act, effectively placing a halt on the project.
The estimated cost of the 165-megawatts project would have seen Guyana racking up to US$1B in debts and still in the near future need additional power.
Questions over shadowy investors in Marriott Hotel
In early 2015, the 197-room Marriott Hotel was commissioned. It cost the taxpayers more than US$50M.
It was supposed to create jobs.
Amid questions, there were disclosures that very little local labour was hired for the project which was awarded under questionable circumstances to a Chinese contractor.
Then there were questions over the investors who put their money in under a syndicated loan arrangement.
Today, it is unclear who those investors are and where the money came from.
Government also had to take over the loan payments as Marriott in its present form is unable to make enough money to repay its debts.
Pic filed as Marriott
Sanata Textile complex sold quietly to Jagdeo friend
– Ramroop granted billion$ in contracts, tax concessions
In the late 2000s, one of the major stories that angered Guyanese was news that the PPP/C government under Bharrat Jagdeo had sold the Sanata Textile complex in the Industrial Site area, Ruimveldt to his close friend, Dr. Ranjisinghi ‘Bobby’ Ramroop for peanuts.
Initially advertising a small part of the complex, after no takers, the Government allowed Ramroop and his company, New GPC, to take control.
The government then questionably awarded hundreds of millions of dollars in drug supply contracts and even granted duty free concessions and other tax breaks which Ramroop used to develop the complex.
State auditors have found instances where they could find no evidence of drugs ordered being delivered and even cases of hundreds of millions in expired drugs.
BaiShanLin granted billion$ in tax concessions; fails to deliver
-was taking boatloads of logs from Guyana quietly
Chinese-owned BaiShanLin was one company operating in Guyana quietly for years.
It was granted billions in tax concessions, forest lands, housing lands and a host of other benefits.
Instead of building a value-added factory on the highway, it was discovered that billions of dollars in lumber was being shipped out with collusion and other infractions.
It was difficult to assess what exactly BaiShanLin was contributing to Guyana.
Shortly after the Coalition Government entered office, the forest concessions for the company were revoked. The company is said to have evolved now.
Rusal declares no profit for decade and half
-received hundreds of millions in tax, fuel concessions
In the mid-2000s, the Government struck a deal with Russian-owned Rusal to manage the Aroaima and Berbice river bauxite mines.
This was after the US-investor had pulled out.
A new company was formed with Rusal owning 90 percent and the Government of Guyana owning 10 percent.
Since mid-2000s, the Bauxite Company of Guyana Inc. has been running the Berbice operations with over 500 workers but never declaring a profit,
The company was granted hundreds of millions of dollars in tax concessions.
It has come under fire for its treatment of staffers.
Guyana paying an inflated US$150M for CJIA to be renovated
One of biggest scandals in recent years is the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) expansion project. The US$150M project has been saddled with one problem after another.
The first was when Guyana learnt that the Bharrat Jagdeo government had secretly signed a contract with China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) in Jamaica to modernize the airport without going to tender.
It was discovered that CHEC came to the government with a proposal to expand the CJIA and Government without verifying costs signed it.
The money for the project, from China, did not come until a year later- late 2012- with construction starting in early 2013.
A project that should have been completed in 32 months is still incomplete.
The contractor has been accused of poor work and working on another project – MovieTowne –while still lagging behind on the airport one.
The biggest pain is that Guyana is getting not a new terminal but a much, much smaller building minus many of the modern features that were promised.
Guyana will be paying back the Chinese loan, upwards of US$130M, not getting value for its money.
In the meantime, there has been little information whether CHEC has been sanctioned.
East Bank lands parceled out to close friends
Over the last decade, one of the big exposes of Kaieteur News was over the manner in which housing lands were parceled and sold at some highly questionable prices.
This was especially so on lands on the East Bank Demerara.
Several plots, amounting to over 400 acres were sold by the Central Housing and Planning Authority (CH&PA) to Chinese and other local businesses with little or no basis on what dictated the price.
Many of the plot, eight or nine years later are still undeveloped, breaching the agreements.
There has been little success by this government, almost four years later, to fix the situation.
There were also questions about how homes were built and how money from the state was used in the housing schemes.
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