Monday, April 5, 2010

Corruption Evidence St James Youth Facility Part 3

Please see part one here and part two here. As stated in the previous parts, this is a reprint from an ordinary citizen trying to get the truth. Liam, as he states, is not a proffesional, neither does he have a political axe to grind. He just wants to know where is hard earned tax paying dollars are going. Thus: Part 3.

So as I mentioned before in my last post, I spent hours ringing trying to track down the Project Manager at NIPDEC for the St. James Youth Facility. At about 4:20 in the afternoon I finally got through to her.

I spoke to her under the guise of a youth group wanting to host workshops at the St. James Youth Facility. I informed her that I had contacted the Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs as well as the Sport Company of Trinidad and Tobago where I was told that the Facility still fell under the management of NIPDEC and that all questions pertaining to completion dates had to be directed to her.

In possibly the most disinterested and uncaring yet annoyed tone she began to talk about the project. She stated, “well we now get d WASA plans approve, so is only now we could have a constant flow of water to d propatee, and T&TEC still hasis to finalise ah few tings”. I asked her how come it was taking so long to complete and inquired as to how three and a half years after construction the utility plans were now being completed. She snapped, “Listen! I only reach on dis projeck January dis year so I doh know nutting before dat”. I questioned her as to the person who held the portfolio before her and she lamented, “sir I hasis no information he does not work here no more and d onlyist ting i know is he name is Jesse doh axe meh nuttin else bout dat.”

In realising the building up of frustration in her voice I jumped right back talking about what my “youth group” does and why we needed to get the building.

She simmered down a bit and said that the project is near completion and she was hoping that it would be handed over to the Ministry by the end of April this year. She also stated that she had a few documents to process and she had to complete the processing before the end of the week. I queried her hesitance in giving me the completion date by asking what may delay the documents from being processed. She simply ended the conversation by informing me that if the documents were not completed this week they would have to wait until she gets back from her SIX WEEK vacation which starts on Monday 29th March. In complete shock by her flippant attitude to the project I thanked her and told her to enjoy her well deserved six week vacation.

Now after going through that entire scenario I’m sure one will understand my befuddlement as to how a people, a company and a government can be so lackadaisical when it comes to a multi–million dollar project and its complete lack of monitoring, accountability and transparency.

Thirsting for more, I decided to contact a friend of mine that is employed by the Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs and is a senior manager of another sporting facility. It was the information that I got from this individual that really had me blown away and I hope everyone understands the gravity of this matter.

I was told that apparently the Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs has hired 4 members of staff for the St. James Youth Facility already and they have been receiving a salary since FEBRUARY 2009. These positions include a Manager receiving monthly $7500 plus $1000 travel allowance and 10% duty allowance of $750 amounting to a total of $9250.00, an Assistant Manager receiving monthly $6400 plus $750 travel allowance amounting to a total $7150.00 and two clerical staff each receiving a monthly salary of $3500. Now if this is correct and my Grade Two in CXC Mathematics means anything, by my estimation the Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs by extension the Government by extension the TAX Payers by extension the people of Trinidad and Tobago have paid a whopping $304,200.00 in salaries to staff of an incomplete and unused St. James Youth Facility.

Mind you, my conversation with my friend is not over yet. I have also been informed that when the Woodbrook Youth Facility was handed over to the Sport Company of Trinidad and Tobago from the Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs last month. The Ministry went in and removed their desks, chairs, computers, filing cabinets and anything else that “belonged“ to them, then travelled the country looking for storage space to put away these items in other sporting facilities to be locked away and collect dust. The Sport Company of Trinidad and Tobago who reports to the Ministry of Finance and not the Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs then approached Cabinet and was approved funds to purchase desks, chairs, computers and filing cabinets for the Woodbrook Youth Facility. Well if that’s not a wanton wastage of taxpayers’ dollars I don’t know what is!

My investigations are on-going and I encourage everyone to be strong and not fear victimization when it comes to exposing the in-efficiencies, in-competencies and in-effectiveness of any Government, any businesses, any NGO’s or any individuals. We must treat this cancerous disease of corruption that has infiltrated and become an integral part of our society. You can call me unpatriotic, a cynic, anti-government, ungrateful, a detractor or any derivation of the sort but I know what the people of Trinidad and Tobago deserve as opposed to what they are being served and I will continue to fight for honesty, justice, fairness, equity, accountability and transparency.

Posted by Liam Rezende Saturday, 27 March 2010 at 13:00

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