- REO and Works Com­mit­tee blame each other

Stabroek News - - EDITORIAL -

In light of the claims by the Re­gional Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer (REO) of Re­gion Two, Ru­pert Hop­kin­son that con­trac­tors were not be­ing di­rected to their projects sites and not be­ing paid on time, Chair­man of the Re­gional Demo­cratic Coun­cil (RDC), De­vanand Ram­datt says that the is­sues high­lighted were as a re­sult of the REO’s fail­ure to com­mu­ni­cate prop­erly with the work ser­vices group.

In a let­ter to Stabroek News pub­lished on Tues­day, Hop­kin­son ex­plained that con­trac­tors with more than $25 mil­lion in cap­i­tal projects have not been di­rected to their project sites to be­gin their work as of Septem­ber 2, which he said is more than a month since the con­tracts have been signed.

“This sit­u­a­tion not only re­sults in a slow­down of the project im­ple­men­ta­tion pro­gramme, but also an un­fair de­lay in pay­ments which can crip­ple some con­trac­tors. Small con­trac­tors who do not have strong credit re­la­tion­ships are par­tic­u­larly vul­ner­a­ble,” he said.

Hop­kin­son ex­plained that when con­trac­tors are taken to their projects late, their project ex­e­cu­tion is late, which re­sults in pay­ment to the con­trac­tors be­ing late and work­ers not be­ing paid on time or cheap un­skilled work­ers be­ing used in­stead, which in the end af­fects house­holds’ in­comes.

“All th­ese fac­tors in­ter­fere with the chain of spend­ing in the econ­omy needed to cre­ate busi­ness ac­tiv­i­ties for the de­vel­op­ment of the Re­gion, and by ex­ten­sion, the coun­try. The sim­ple, and per­haps in­no­cent act, of de­lay­ing any phase of project im­ple­men­ta­tion, be it tak­ing con­trac­tors late or sign­ing their pay­ment vouch­ers late, can pro­duce a rip­ple ef­fect, that ul­ti­mately pun­ishes and even de­stroys fam­ily units,” he said in his let­ter, while point­ing out that he hopes that the ac­tions are not po­lit­i­cally mo­ti­vated since the head of the Works Com­mit­tee is a mem­ber of the op­po­si­tion, who signs off projects some­times months af­ter projects have been com­pleted.

Ac­cord­ing to Hop­kin­son, per­sonal tele­phone con­tact with con­trac­tors of 50 project awards made at the Re­gional Ten­der Board on July 19th re­vealed that they were all shown their projects late, some as many as three weeks af­ter they had been awarded. In one par­tic­u­lar case it took his in­ter­ven­tion three weeks af­ter the con­tract for the project had been signed, to get the Roads Su­per­in­ten­dent to take the con­trac­tor to his project site, which had been awarded to him at the cost of $6,997,000.

“In fact, let­ters avail­able would show that $25,251,590 in cap­i­tal projects have not been shown to the awarded con­trac­tors as at Au­gust 27, 2017, more than one month af­ter they were awarded, though a let­ter to the Re­gional En­gi­neer re­quested that the con­trac­tors be taken to their project sites within three days,” he said.

He fur­ther ex­plained that de­layed project im­ple­men­ta­tion gives the Re­gion a false im­ple­men­ta­tion sta­tus and rat­ing among other Re­gions, mak­ing it seem as if the RDC is not per­form­ing ef­fi­ciently.

“It is sta­tis­ti­cally im­pos­si­ble to award more than 90% of your cap­i­tal

projects and your im­ple­men­ta­tion per­cent­age is only 30% of your bud­getary al­lo­ca­tions. This is the case in Re­gion 2. For the re­gional econ­omy th­ese ac­tions by pub­lic of­fi­cials lead to a loss of po­ten­tial de­vel­op­ment in the Re­gion and coun­try,” he noted, while point­ing out that if the sit­u­a­tion in the Re­gion re­mains unchecked, then there will be great eco­nomic and so­cial harm.

In an in­vited com­ment, Ram­datt said that his feed­back from the Works Com­mit­tee is not con­sis­tent with what Hop­kin­son has said, and that there has been a prob­lem with the com­mu­ni­ca­tion be­tween the REO and the Com­mit­tee.

“He has been fail­ing to com­mu­ni­cate when the ten­der board meets and who were awarded th­ese projects. Those kinds of in­for­ma­tion is not for­warded and prob­a­bly re­sults in con­trac­tors not know­ing where the sites are,” Ram­datt said.

Al­lud­ing to the early bud­get, Ram­datt ex­plained that only last week the ten­der board had awarded sev­eral con­tracts, which he said should not be hap­pen­ing now since the bud­get was pre­sented since ear­lier in the year.

“You al­ready have your ap­proved bud­get and what you need to do is en­sure that th­ese projects are done very early, maybe the first quar­ter. Other re­gions are way above Re­gion Two in terms of im­ple­men­ta­tion, and it is be­cause he has been fail­ing to sign off on pay­ment vouch­ers and doc­u­men­ta­tion to the Works Com­mit­tee and en­gi­neers,” he added.

“Mr Hop­kin­son is very, very good at blam­ing other per­sons, other of­fi­cers who have been work­ing tire­lessly, for­get­ting his own in­com­pe­tence and his at­ti­tude to work and our Re­gional Demo­cratic Coun­cil,” Ram­datt charged.

The Chair­man ques­tioned whether any dis­ci­plinary ac­tions have yet been taken against the en­gi­neers and other mem­bers of the Works Com­mit­tee by the REO, if his claims are true.

“You [REO] have a right to take dis­ci­plinary ac­tions if you have strong ev­i­dence that an en­gi­neer is fail­ing to do some­thing. Why didn’t he take ac­tions by part of the Pub­lic Ser­vice rules? If the staff are not com­ply­ing and work­ing then he can take those ac­tions,” Ram­datt rea­soned.

Ru­pert Hop­kin­son

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