The absence of Regional Executive Officer (REO) Rupert Hopkinson at the statutory meeting of the Regional Democratic Council (RDC) of Region Two yesterday, led to a walkout by Councillors of the People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C).
Midway into the meeting, discussions into a matter arose and it was soon discovered that the issue that needed to be dealt with by the REO was still unresolved.
APNU+AFC Councillor Jullian Cummings raised the issue about the non-payment of Community Infrastructure Improvement Programme workers where he said that trench cleaners are still owed for community service works done on the road shoulders and within the community of Charity.
“I am disappointed since these workers are owed since 2016, and payments were not processed by the Region’s REO. I am calling for something to be done about this issue and it must be done soon,” Councillor Cummings said.
Naith Ram, another APNU+AFC Councillor, also noted his dissatisfaction with regards to the issue.
“I am dissatisfied that to date these workers’ payments were not processed and the thing is, their families’ livelihood are being affected. These workers have their family to provide for and children to send to school. Several other matters raised at previous RDC meetings still continue to linger due to the REO’s absence. This needs to be looked into,” Ram added.
Deputy Regional Executive Officer, Roopkumar Persaud who stood in place of the clerk for the RDC, in the absence of Hopkinson, said he has no knowledge about the payments due for the Community Infrastructure Improvement Programme workers.
Region Two Chairman Devanand Ramdatt, in addressing the councillors noted that he too is dissatisfied with the absence of the REO, since many issues raised at the RDC level are still left unanswered and unaccounted for.
“I cannot understand why the REO is not attending the meeting although it is statutory and no excuses are given to the house for his absence. This is a total disrespect to the Region Two RDC, the REO who is the clerk of the RDC should be present here at all times. On many occasions of the RDC meetings, he has been absent with no excuse, and as a result there are no meaningful follow up to key development issues within the Region. Now is the time for the RDC to take a firm stand on the lethargic leadership of Rupert Hopkinson,” Ramdatt said.
After this declaration, all the Councillors from the PPP/C walked out from the meeting. Councillors of the APNU+AFC then left. This is the second consecutive meeting missed by the REO, prior to which, he was on annual leave.
Several of the issues still to be resolved at the level of the RDC which have not been addressed to date due to the REO’s absence, include delayed payments for contractors, slow implementation of the Capital and Current Budget for 2017, non-payment of funds for the Amerindian Heritage Celebrations, lack of payment to RDC Councillor of Wakapoa, Lloyd Perreira, poor conditions of dams leading to cultivation areas, lack of fogging machines in the region, poor conditions of community grounds, the non-functioning generator at the Suddie Hospital, constant blaming of programme heads for REO negligence and other issues.
The date for the next meeting was not announced, but the meetings are usually held on the second Tuesday of each month.