Bulkan knocks Re­gion Two REO

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Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cers ap­pointed by the APNU/ AFC coali­tion have been be­hav­ing as dic­ta­tors, es­pe­cially in re­gions con­trolled by the op­po­si­tion. In many in­stances these po­lit­i­cal ap­pointees have openly shown dis­re­spect for the author­ity elected rep­re­sen­ta­tives at the level of the RDCs, NDCs and Town Coun­cils.

They have got­ten away with this un­til last week when Min­is­ter of Com­mu­ni­ties, Ron­ald Bulkan, rep­ri­manded the REO of Re­gion 2, Ru­pert Hop­kin­son, and rec­om­mended that he apol­o­gize to the Anna Regina Town Coun­cil (ARTC) for in­fring­ing on its ju­ris­dic­tion when he chose to fill the main drainage chan­nel in front of the De­part­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion at Cot­ton Field with­out per­mis­sion.

Hop­kin­son clashed with both the Re­gional Chair­man De­vanand Ram­datt and Anna Regina Mayor Rabindra­nauth Mo­han over the de­ci­sion.

He also faced in­tense scru­tiny af­ter he was seen on video lam­bast­ing a coun­cil­lor who ques­tioned him about his au­tho­ri­sa­tion to pro­ceed with the pro­ject.

In the video, which was shared with Stabroek News, Hop­kin­son was ap­proached by a coun­cil­lor seek­ing clar­ity on the de­ci­sion. The REO, in re­sponse, said, “I am the REO. I am in charge of this re­gion. You tell any­body I say so… you tell any­body I say that the REO is re­spon­si­ble for ev­ery­thing the gov­ern­ment owns in this re­gion….”

Fur­ther ques­tions about the ac­tual role of the Town Coun­cil were met with the as­ser­tion by Hop­kin­son that “the ad­min­is­tra­tion is su­pe­rior to the Town Coun­cil.”

In a let­ter ad­dressed to the REO and dated Novem­ber 17, 2017, which was seen by the Stabroek News, Bulkan rep­ri­manded the REO for his con­duct be­fore rec­om­mend­ing that he apol­o­gise to both the coun­cil­lor he had the ex­change with and the mu­nic­i­pal­ity.

“I am copied in the cor­re­spon­dence from the Anna Regina Town Coun­cil dated 2017.11.10 which al­leges your uni­lat­eral act of ef­fect­ing works, namely the block­ing of a drainage trench within their ju­ris­dic­tion. For the record, the Min­istry en­dorses the views con­tained in same,” the let­ter read.

Ref­er­enc­ing the video, the min­is­ter said the contents of the record­ing sug­gest ig­no­rance of con­sti­tu­tional and leg­isla­tive pro­vi­sions that de­lin­eate the ju­ris­dic­tion of these or­gans and a de­vi­a­tion from the spirit and in­tent of a co­op­er­a­tive ap­proach to gov­er­nance.

“The Min­istry, while mind­ful of the pre­vail­ing po­lit­i­cal at­ti­tudes and com­po­si­tion of the or­gans, en­cour­ages the devel­op­ment of a cul­ture of co­op­er­a­tion char­ac­terised by mu­tual trust and re­spect. Each or­gan’s con­sti­tu­tional sta­tus, pow­ers and func­tions must be re­spected as they work col­lab­o­ra­tively in the in­ter­est of the cit­i­zens they serve,” Bulkan posited.

“Moreover, as REO or Clerk of Coun­cil, the Min­istry ad­vises against the usurpa­tion of coun­cil’s author­ity. Be re­minded that even as you are there to rep­re­sent the cen­tral gov­ern­ment, you are also re­spon­si­ble to the coun­cil you serve. Be fur­ther re­minded that as a pub­lic ad­min­is­tra­tor, your con­duct must ex­em­plify pro­fes­sion­al­ism and not one which brings the RDC into dis­re­pute. The con­duct in that record­ing is un­fit­ting and I dis­as­so­ci­ate my­self and the Min­istry from same,” he added.

This be­ing said, the Min­is­ter rec­om­mend that the REO adopt a more “cor­dial/con­sul­ta­tive” ap­proach when hav­ing in­ter­ac­tions with the mu­nic­i­pal­ity. “Fi­nally, my ad­vice is that you con­sider an apol­ogy to the coun­cil­lor with whom you had the con­fronta­tion and to the mu­nic­i­pal­ity,” the Min­is­ter con­cluded.

He fur­ther noted that the coun­cil is not look­ing for just an apol­ogy but for there to be some dis­cus­sion on the details sur­round­ing the pro­ject since they have been left to spec­u­late. “Up to now he hasn’t shown us at the Town Coun­cil a pro­posal or even a draw­ing of what they are putting there. We hear that he putting down benches like is a park or some­thing go­ing there, we haven’t been pre­sented with any­thing,” the Mayor said.

“He has the im­pres­sion that he can do as he pleases but the in­ter­nal streets, the re­serves and the pub­lic open spa­ces are all un­der our ju­ris­dic­tion…we don’t want just an apol­ogy, we want there to be some sort of con­sul­ta­tion; let us know the details of the pro­ject so that we can de­cide whether it is nec­es­sary or not,” Mo­han added.

Com­ment­ing on the sta­tus of the works be­ing car­ried out on that area, the Mayor stated that there are signs to in­di­cate the con­struc­tion of con­crete drains to fa­cil­i­tate drainage of wa­ter from the road. How­ever, Mo­han is adamant that the area is prone to flood­ing and that by fill­ing up the trench, the REO has put the area at risk of flood­ing.

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