The Public Works Ministry has ordered an investigation into reports that a local contractor, an engineer and regional officials have been working in collusion to misappropriate sand from the Corentyne seashore to execute a project in the region.
After spending $444 million on the Corentyne sea defense where boulders were placed to make a rip-rap between Numbers 59 and 63 Villages on the Corentyne, a contractor has been accused of fetching away the sand. It is reported that to date has removed numerous truckloads.
On Wednesday, Minister within the Public Works Ministry, Deodat Indar, visited the beach, where he addressed the issue and noted that such actions will not be tolerated. The contractor was also given a similar contract to reinforce the Sea defense at Corriverton.
That project is being funded by an Inter-American Development Bank loan. The contractor allegedly has been removing sand from the Number 63 Beach and taking it to complete the IDB-funded project.
Minister Indar spoke with the media after examining the damage caused.
“This contractor, (name provided) was doing that. When we did the investigation, the officers of the Sea Defense Board issued a cease order for them to stop doing it. This is a reef. It is not privately-owned; it is the sea defense reserve that is protected by law. They were digging it out,” Minister Indar said.
Asked whether the investigations have been able to ascertain how it occurred under the NDC’s watch and whether the NDC might have had a part to play, Minister Indar said the NDC Chairman told him that the contractor made a request to use an access road.
“Nothing to do with the removal of material. The NDC does not have the power to grand the removal of material from a reef; it is the Sea Defense Board. So, an application would have had to be made to the Sea Defense Board and none were made,” he added.
Indar was questioned on the report by the NDC that it received a request to use an access road leading to a beach, since the only things that could have been coming out would have either been water from the sea or sand from the beach. He was also asked whether that question was put to them based on their claims. However, Indar said the NDC officials can best answer that question.
In an invited comment Chairman of 52/74 NDC Hemraj Ghamchan said he did approach the contractor on the issue and it resulted in a heated argument. However, locals say on the day in question the Chairman confronted the driver of one of the sand trucks about the damages being caused to the roadway.
Meanwhile, the minister explained that contractor has agreed to return the sand that was removed from the beach and has since repaired a section of the area the trucks damaged in traversing.
“We have written to the [the contractor] and told them that they need to restore the material and restore the dam. I have not seen the material restored. I saw that the dam was leveled up to some extent.”
The minister said his visit was to see the extent of the damages to the sea defense. Worrying also is the fact that the Regional Sea Defense Engineer lives along the entrance to the Beach which has been totally destroyed and has claimed that he did not know what the trucks were going to the beach for.
Nevertheless, Minister Indar said he is awaiting a report form engineers and promised an early resolution.
“I am having the engineers to look and see how is it that the engineers at Corriverton did not pick it up and ask the question, where did the sand come from and try to verify the source of the material. This will be resolved sometime this week. They have to come. [The contractor] has to restore this and we have to get a progress report on the other project at Corriverton which [the contractor] is doing where the sand has been removed from Number 63 beach and taken there,” he said.
Efforts by this publication for a comment from the contactor proved futile. [Guyana Times]