The Linden Mayor and Town Council has fired two employees who were attached to the toll booth at Kara Kara.
Stabroek News was reliably informed that the employees were allowing vehicles to pass through the toll booth while paying only a fraction of the applicable toll.
“They were found telling persons to pay less than the cost and they give a fake receipt. We heard of it and we investigated and found out it was true,” a source told this newspaper. A third person who is a constable was also suspended for similar actions.
When Stabroek News contacted the Mayor of Linden, Carwyn Holland, he confirmed the story and announced that “This council has zero tolerance with corruption. We won’t have it in this council and we are clamping down on it,” he said firmly.
Holland expressed disappointment at the actions of the employees since he stated that the revenue generator was reintroduced to improve the condition of Linden.
“The toll booth was reintroduced to improve the livelihood of Linden not to enrich no one person or to enrich a few persons. It is there to benefit all of Linden,” he said, pointing out that the council is in desperate need of financing to carry out its mandate to residents.
He stated that the finances gathered through the toll system would be used for road repairs, repairs to vehicles owned by the municipality, improve garbage collection and address other issues.
“If the money is being stolen at the toll booth we would not be able to achieve our objectives that we have,” Holland noted.
He also stated that they would be installing surveillance cameras to better monitor the operations of the toll booth. Due to the lack of finances, he explained they were not able to install the cameras before.
The First Citizen also said that they would be clamping down on vehicles that try to smart the system by bypassing the toll booth.
“We are making a list of those trucks and buses that try to pass and not pay the tolls… we are working along with the police and looking at taking them to court,” he said.
The Kara Kara Bridge toll booth is to collect revenue from vehicles transporting lumber and other resources through Linden.
The toll collection was stopped by the former PPP/C government in 2013, much to the chagrin of the cash-strapped Interim Management Committee of the Linden Town Council, which depended on the funds. Then local government minister Norman Whittaker had sent a letter to the council stating that any council employee who manned the booth would be dismissed immediately and anybody employed to work there would be charged with extortion.
Since the closing of the booth, the town council and the residents have been back and forth with proposals to have it reopened.
The toll booth was reintroduced back in November 2016 to help sustain the operations of the council.