May 10, 2021 News
– Director discards Contravention Order
Kaieteur News – A foreign-controlled company, Superior Concrete Inc., whose officers are Ian Charles Jones, Richard Austin Shamlin and Maxwell Christopher Snow, has proceeded to build a concrete batching facility in Houston without any regulatory permission. Kaieteur News has confirmed this with the Mayor and City Council, Central Housing and Planning Authority and the Environmental Protection Agency.
To make matters worse, when the Central Housing and Planning Authority (CHPA) visited the site to serve a Contravention Order last week, this Order was discarded by Jones. The document demanded that the foreign officers show which regulatory body gave them the power or the permission to go ahead with their operations.
The land in question is a development adjacent to South Ruimveldt. Kaieteur News was able to obtain a copy of the transport for the plot in use and observed that it is part of Houston Estates. The land is also partly owned by Michael Vieira, who is the Chairman of Houston Estates. KN understands that Vieira has no part of the operation but has leased the lands to Andrew Mekdeci. Vieira has indicated to concerned landowners that he does not know the owners of Superior Concrete Inc. and he has no arrangement with them. He has also stated that his lease to Mekdeci specifies that the land is to be used only for legal and lawful purposes. The relationship between Mekdeci and Superior Concrete Inc. is unknown. However, it was observed by this publication during a site visit that machinery operating on the site is branded MMC, a company owned and controlled by Andrew and Marise Mekdeci.
What this newspaper also learnt is that Ian Charles Jones is listed on the popular business networking website, LinkedIn, as the “Project Manager for the construction of a high specification ExxonMobil headquarters building in Guyana” for the period November 2019 to September 2020.
Furthermore, industry players have expressed concern that the factory is being set up to supply concrete for the construction of ExxonMobil’s new headquarters in Ogle, ECD, especially for its piling efforts. With the foreign-owned company evading the applicable laws and regulations and operating in a rogue manner, there are growing concern that it is representative of yet another strong blow to local content development and respect for the rule of law. Moreover, stakeholders posit that local, legitimate concrete operations will be placed at a disadvantage.
Another point of note is that under company law, Superior Concrete Inc. can be classified as a “local company,” despite having all foreign officers. This state of affairs has given rise to questions surrounding the ability of foreign investors to easily extend their tentacles into the local market while hiding under the cloak of weak laws. One crucial question being asked by local stakeholders is whether the foreign officers of Superior Concrete Inc. are conducting business in Guyana on a visitor’s visa, which contravenes the limitations of this visa classification, or have these companies been adequately vetted and been issued work permits to their foreign employees? If the latter is not correct, local stakeholders told Kaieteur News that it would be an apparent breach of the local laws. They also note that it is an issue which should engage the attention of the relevant authorities.
In the meantime, Kaieteur News understands that residents in the area are preparing to petition the authorities about the illegal operations. Other stakeholders have also filed legal proceedings seeking a resolution.
Kaieteur News will continue to follow this story.
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