Jan 26, 2021 News
From pig pen to chicken pen…
– Minister peeved over incomplete works
Kaieteur News – Another discrepancy has been unearthed within the group of community projects funded under the Sustainable Livelihood and Entrepreneurial Development (SLED) programme in 2019 for Region 10 (Upper Demerara-Berbice). This time it has been revealed that $2,223,462 was collected by a Linden resident, whose name was given as Robert Archer, to construct chicken pens for a community project.
The works are incomplete and Archer, who was also supposed to supervise the project, is currently living overseas. At least this is according to Minister of Labour, Joseph Hamilton, who conducted a visit to the region last Friday, in order to get a first-hand look at some of the projects.
Kaieteur News had previously reported that Jermaine Figueira, an A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) Member of Parliament (MP), had collected $5.7M to construct and extend pig pens in Linden via a cooperative society that was never officially registered.In Archer’s case, he received the funds to execute the project but the funds were not collected under a cooperative society, but rather he collected as an individual. SLED projects are usually separated into two types: group projects, which are given to groups and cooperative societies and individual projects, which are given to specific individuals for execution.
Minister Hamilton told Kaieteur News that when he conducted a site visit at the project in Amelia’s Ward, Linden, he made several discoveries, the main one being that Archer was not in the country. He stated too that the project was being executed on private land where persons are living and, upon inquiring, he was then told that Archer was not in the country.
Further, it was noted that he has not been in the country for months and the project is incomplete.
According to documents seen by this newspaper, Archer was given an interim payment of $1,017,141 on August 9, 2019. A status report as of December 12, 2019, also stated that the final payment for the project was collected, confirming that Archer has been given the full sum of $2,223,462.
The status report also lists Archer as the Coordinator and contact person for the project.
The report states that as of December 12, 2019, the pens were completed and an initial batch of 200 chickens was placed in the pens and a second batch of 200 was to be collected on December 17. But Minister Hamilton is adamant that this is not the case.
In fact, he revealed that even a plucking machine switch had not yet been installed.
Archer’s project is included in two chicken pen projects that were funded by the SLED programme in 2019. Minister Hamilton revealed that the second one has not been properly started. According to the Minister, the other chicken pen project was given to the West Watooka Community Development Cooperative Society to construct pens in West Watooka to the tune of $2,230,479.
The December 12, 2019 status report stated that the posts were erected, meshed and attached. The concrete flooring was completed but the structure was not built according to the project plan. It was also highlighted that the works were moving at a very slow pace.
An image in the status report showed the erected structure, but a recent image seen by Kaieteur News showed the structure completely covered by bushes. This was confirmed by Minister Hamilton.
Additionally, a document seen by this publication revealed that an interim payment of $1,662,607 was collected on July 29, 2019, the document, however, did not indicate that the final payment was made.
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