Auditor General’s Office to probe new asphalt plant -Minister Edghill
Minister of Public Works, Hon. Bishop Juan Edghill says the Office of the Auditor General will investigate the Demerara Harbour Bridge Asphalt Plant, which remains inoperable two years after being installed.
He made this announcement during an inspection of the plant on Friday. The probe will seek to “find out how it was procured, if it was the best deal we got, why it is not functioning, what needs to be done to make sure it functions and how could we start using it to get greater efficiency and to get value for money in Guyana.”
Minister Edghill said he was displeased the former Government spent $488 million on an asphalt plant that is yet to start production.
“Since we got into Government, we discovered that parts were not in place to make it functional and that is why I can’t understand the level of dishonesty of [former Minister] David Patterson… No amount of propaganda and spinning things in the public will make a non-functional asphalt plant function.”
The Minister said he is awaiting an assessment by technical officials to determine the necessary steps to be taken to remedy what he described as a “white elephant” since taxpayers’ money was invested in the new plant.
“We have a very robust developmental agenda. This plant and its capacity to put out asphalt on a daily basis is required and needed, but up until now it can’t be operational and functional.”
Making matters worse, the Minister said the Plant has not been properly handed over to the Government from the manufacturers.
DHBC Board met on probe into old plant
Concerning the probe into the old asphalt plant, the Demerara Harbour Bridge Corporation’s (DHBC) Board of Directors recently examined the findings.
Minister Edghill said the Board has determined that its human resources sub-committee will interview persons attached to DHBC who have been deemed culpable with respect to the allegations and outcomes of the probe.
“As far as I am aware, the Chairman of the Board is arranging for those interviews early next week and then from there we will be able to make public pronouncements.”
The Minister said it is the Board’s decision to hold staffers accountable for any wrongdoing, according to the probe.
At every Board installation under the Ministry of Public Works since August, Minister Edghill has charged the directors to ensure the apparatuses of Government confirm to the tenets of accountability and transparency.
On December 30, Chief Executive Officer of Chateram Ramdihal Chartered Accountants, Mr. Chateram Ramdihal, handed over the report, which investigated the financial and operational management of the old asphalt plant during the years 2013-2020.
Among the findings, the probe found that the management of DHBC was at fault for not ensuring the plant was controlled and operated efficiently.
The probe also revealed over $12 million in debt being accrued by Courtney Benn Construction Incorporated, and the loan of bitumen to Suresh Jagmohan and China Railways, all without the Board’s approval, among other damning findings.