Amid reports of the Board of Directors of the Central Housing and Planning Authority (CH&PA) taking a decision to fire the entire team of the 1000 Homes Project, former Housing Minister under the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Administration Irfaan Ali has called the move “sinister”.
His comments were in response to an article published on Friday by another section of the media under the title: “Amidst fraud, other irregularities on 1000 Homes project…Central Housing to sack entire team.”
The article states that “According to a senior housing official yesterday [Thursday], the decision was taken to send home all the staffers of the project after it became clear that mismanagement, fraud and a number of irregularities were discovered.”
However, Ali pointed out that the Board of Directors need to identify the “many instances of fraud” that they are claiming were found within the 1000 Homes Project and produce evidence of same. In fact, he said he is of the view that these allegations were fabricated as part of a plan to dismiss the project’s team and have them replaced by new persons.
“It would appear that some sinister motive is at hand to concoct allegations of fraud and corruption in order to get rid of all the staff at the 1000 Homes Project to make way for an entirely new batch that would be handpicked and nurtured to execute the agenda of a select few for their own benefit,” the former Housing Minister stated.
Last week, the Hamilton Green-headed CH&PA Board came under fire after it was reported that contractor Ivor Allen was single-sourced to execute ‘corrective’ works on some 11 homes under the Government’s 1000 Homes Project.
INews understands that the CH&PA Board handpicked Allen; a close associate of the coalition A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Government.
Allen was once the Chairman of Region Two under the People’s National Congress (PNC), and served as a Member of Parliament of that party up to 2006.
It was also disclosed that the cost for the works is at $7,467,227, but the internal memorandum issued by the Secretary to the CH&PA Board put the cost for the same 11 homes at a whopping $16,727,623, a difference of over $9.2 million.
Moreover, the newspaper article claimed that several of the staffers, inclusive of management members, were not listed as being part of the CH&PA, and that several staffers were related to former Finance Director of the Project Taslim Baksh. It was noted too that during the Board meeting on Thursday, CH&PA Project Manager Fazal Wahab and former Chief Executive Officer, Myrna Pitt, distanced themselves from the 1000 Homes Project.
However, according to Ali, the project was managed by a committee headed by Pitt. He pointed out that according to the Project’s Standard Operation Manual, the 1000 Homes team “will be headed by the CEO and will comprise a Project Manager, two Supervisory Engineers, Clerk of Works and other field staff”.
He added too that the former Finance Director was only a member of the 1000 Homes Project team and was not responsible for the management of the project as the article is falsely claiming.
“The Board of Directors need to produce evidence that staff employed on the 1000 Homes Project is related to the former Director of Finance of CH&PA. No staff working on the 1000 Homes Project has any family relation to the former Director of Finance,” he posited.
The former Housing Minister, under whose watch the Project located at Perseverance (behind Providence), East Bank Demerara, began, went onto address reports that the project was poorly supervised, hence substandard work on the two bedroom houses that will require millions to repair.
“The supervision of the construction of the houses at the 1000 Homes Project was done by the Projects Department of CH&PA. The site was headed by a Superintendent of Works and several Inspectors of Works that reported directly to the Director of Projects,” the former Housing Minister highlighted.
Moreover, there were reports that the CH&PA Board had discovered that a 22-year-old Data Entry Clerk was promoted to Procurement Officer, handling the purchase of $500 million in materials for the project, without there being any records to show why he was appointed.
However, Ali explained that the young man, who holds a degree from the University of Guyana, was highly recommended for the position by his supervisor since it was felt that his skills were being under utilised as a Data Entry Clerk. He further stated that the Procurement Officer is housed in the Projects Department and reports directly to the Director of Projects of CH&PA; hence he was not solely responsible for the procurement of over $500 million in materials.
Furthermore, in response to reports of inaction by the CH&PA in relation to several cases of vandalism, the former Housing Minister noted that steps were taken to have the area secured.
“There was vandalism and thefts at the 1000 Homes Site that usually occurred after dark, in spite of security arrangements that were in place. The CH&PA tried to engage the Guyana Police Force to put an outpost in the area because it was impossible for CH&PA to prevent the vandalism and thefts that were occurring on the homes because of the vastness of the project site,” he remarked.