Police may be called in over US uniforms deal

with Cecil Griffith
Stabroek News
September 27, 1999

The national police may be called in to investigate the purchasing of uniforms for the city constabulary from a United States-based company.

The ready-made uniforms which were ordered from a company in Miami, USA, during the earlier part of this year received the blessings of the city council, and the order was placed at a cost of US$62,000.

Some two months ago the new uniforms were uplifted by city hall, but there was a hitch. No skirts were supplied for the women in the city police, in addition many accessories to go with the uniforms had not been provided by the company operating under the name Metro USA.

After weeks of inquiries in the United States and approaches to the U.S. ambassador in Guyana, it was discovered that Metro USA no longer exists. It still had an outstanding debt to the city council of about US$19,000.

Even Guyana's head of mission in Miami has been asked for help to trace the U.S. company. A recent investigation by the council's internal auditor has revealed that certain aspects of the transaction need to be given more careful attention.

I've been informed that city treasurer (ag) Roderick Edinboro, has prepared a detailed report on the uniform issue.

The city treasurer may also be called upon to explain an attempt by someone in city hall for an arrangement for the council to spend more than US$70,000 on street lamps from the United States. The chairman of the council's Finance Committee, deputy mayor Robert Williams is reported to have refused to sign the cheque for the supply of the lights.

Stabroek Market
The on-again off-again works at the Stabroek market have come to a complete halt, and workmen attached to the city engineer's department yesterday began removing scaffolding and barriers from the eastern section of the market on Water street.

A spokesman for the city engineer's department told me that sections of the bell tower have been secured and the support for the dome has been strengthened.

All the gates on the eastern side of the market were expected to be opened from today. It's understood that the rehabilitation work which was to have been undertaken by the city engineer's department at a cost of $18M will now be given out to tender.

Union pressure
The two trade unions which represent city council employees have been stepping up the pressure on city hall for pay increases for their members.

The Guyana Local Government Officers Union headed by Chief Meat and Food Inspector, Andrew Garnett, is asking for a 25% increase arguing that its members are "enduring harsh working conditions, with little complaints, tools and other materials...which are in short supply, but yet giving the facilities at their disposal, much work is done.." Meanwhile the Guyana Labour Union (GLU), has reduced an earlier wage demand of 65% to 40%. The GLU claims that its new request is more realistic, "considering the council's current financial position and is justifiable in the light of the spiralling cost of living in the society..."

The leadership of both unions recently met with the chairman and members of the council's finance committee, which is headed by Deputy Mayor Robert Williams.

Another headache for the deputy mayor is finding money to pay the owners of the garbage trucks contracted by the council. They have threatened to cease operations until city hall pays them the outstanding monies due for work done over the past weeks. The deputy mayor has already said the council has no money and is living above its means.It's interesting to note that while some council workers are still to be paid for this month, councillors last week collected their monthly $15,000 stipends after being told earlier in the month that the treasury was empty.

Unfinished business
*What has been the final decision by the council on the Ringband issue on North road? The structure which had been earlier described as unauthorised is still standing.

*A report on the operations of the cemetery had been prepared several months ago, when will it be brought before the council for debate?

*The government had put up proposals for the development of D'Urban Park to the council ...when will councillors begin consideration of the proposals?

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