Govt assembling team of engineers, auditors to probe asphalt plant racket

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Minister of Public Works Juan Edghill, along with Junior Minister of Public Works Deodat Indar during a recent visit to the asphalt plant. at Garden of Eden, EBD. [DPI photo]
Minister of Public Works Juan Edghill has revealed that the government is assembling a high-level team of experts to probe the alleged racket at the State-run Asphalt Plant, located at Garden of Eden, East Bank Demerara (EBD).

One week ago, Minister Edghill ordered an investigation into the allegations of the racket, noting that corruption will not be tolerated.

When quizzed about the progress of the probe today, the minister indicated that a team is currently being assembled.

“At this stage I’m finalising a team. In the first instance I thought that maybe one person might be able to go in there and bring a report. And when I examined what is taking place, I think it would be better to have a team.

“Because you have to get somebody who can do the quantities, because you’re dealing with allegations that say certain amount of asphalt was purchased for the roads and then it was resold and not used for the roads,” Minister Edghill explained.

“So, we have to get people to assess that, an engineering type person, an auditor who can track and trace the money and somebody who is skilled in the art of investigating. And that team will come. The terms of reference have been worked out and that team is being finalized and as soon as that team is finalized, I will announce it. And people will be able to engage the team,” he added.

It was reported that contractors working on government projects were mandated to take their asphalt from the Garden of Eden plant.

Upon doing that, they would then get huge discounts under a scam that allegedly stretched all the way to the Ministry of Public Works.

The reports are that persons from the Public Works Ministry would order a certain amount of asphalt from the plant to be billed to the Ministry.

However, they would collect less than what was ordered, and the difference is sold at discounted prices to select contractors.

Minister Edghill explained that “the allegation is that this has been going on for quite a while. Years. And if this is years, then the public treasury would have been hemorrhaging as a result of this.”