Probe of City Engineer's Dept falls flat
City Council Round-Up
with Cecil Griffith
June 14, 2004
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No one was present to give evidence before the commissioner Mr Bernard Carter and the secretary to the commission Mr Puran Persaud, a field investigator and administrative assistant in the Ministry of Local Government.
Mr Carter is procurement officer in the agricultural sector programme.
After more than a hour and a half facing empty chairs, the commissioner and his secretary had to call it a day.
Although Mr Carter and Mr Persaud were ready to listen to complaints from citizens sometime after ten o' clock in the morning, the only exchanges that took place were between a young reporter from the Kaieteur News and yours truly. We were there to cover the proceedings, which never took place.
To my consternation and horror it was revealed that the only public announcement about the existence of the commission was carried in the state-owned Chronicle newspapers by way of a public notice which invited "all persons, including councillors, former councillors, rate payers and the general public, who desire to attend the inquiry and give testimony to the commissioner in keeping with the District Councils Act Chapter 28:01."
During my conversation, and not an interview, with Mr Carter and the commission's secretary, it was disclosed that other sections of the media had not been informed either through a public notice like the one in the Chronicle or the usual press release or personal contact alerting the media.
There were promises by the secretary to the commissioner that this obvious lapse would be rectified immediately. It leaves one to wonder if the Local Government Ministry is serious in finding out what is really going on at the City Engineer's Department, bearing in mind that there were two previous commissions which were appointed to investigate this department.
Both Mr Liburd and Mr Kendall, now deceased, did not live to see their recommendations acted upon. Mr Carter should beware.
The Commission's powers
Last Thursday morning Mr Carter and Mr Persaud arrived at City Hall long before the appointed time for the opening of the inquiry and held closed-door meetings with Mayor Hamilton Green, Deputy Mayor Robert Williams, and Town Clerk Mrs. Beulah Williams.
Mr. Carter told this column that before the next sitting of the commission he would be going through the Liburd and Kendall reports.
All things being equal, he added, the investigation could end in a month's time. The commissioner has asked the Town Clerk to supply him with past agendas and minutes of meetings of the council over a given period.
Persons willing to appear before the commission could do so or submit written submissions which would form part of the investigation.
Mr Carter under the Act has the powers to summon anyone to appear before him and demand the surrendering of all books, plans and documents which he feels are of some relevance to the inquiry.
This is a question for the ever-vigilant staff at the Medical Officer of Health department.... Food businesses are springing up at certain parts of the seawall going east from what used to be the Russian Embassy... They occupy the grass verges south of the seawall. Where should one go to seek permission to set up these food carts... the City Council or the Ministry of Works? Responsibility for the seawall has always been in dispute between the council and the government.
The Merriman Mall has now been turned into a basketball court.... A backboard has been set up close to the entrance of the Mall from Light Street... Your attention is needed acting Chief Constable.