‘I am in charge of this region, you tell anybody I say so’

-Region 2 REO defends filling drainage channel without consulting town council

The drainage channel, which has been filled with sand

Councillors from the Regional Democratic Council (RDC) of Region Two and the Anna Regina Town Council are currently at loggerheads with Regional Executive Officer (REO) Rupert Hopkinson over a decision to fill a main drainage channel in front of the Department of Education at Cotton Field.

Stabroek News understands that the REO, who is yet to find favour with the regional administration since his appointment, authorised the filling of a trench in front of the Department of Education at Cotton Field without any prior consultation with or permission from the Town Council, which is the body responsible for the area. In addition to this, concerns have been raised over the possible implication such a move would have for the drainage system in the area.

Though several attempts were made to contact the REO for a comment, they proved futile.
However in a video seen by Stabroek News, where Hopkinson was approached by a councillor seeking clarity on the decision, the REO in response to questions asked about the authorisation for the works said, “I am the REO, I am in charge of this region, you tell anybody I say so… you tell anybody I say that the REO is responsible for everything the government owns in this region….”
Further questions about the actual role of the Town Council were met with the assertion by Hopkinson that “the administration is superior to the Town Council.”

Meanwhile, RDC Chairman Devanand Ramdatt, in a press statement, has since publicly stated that the administration does not support the blockage of the trench and that futile attempts were made to engage the REO on the issue.

“The RDC notes with deep concern that the trench being blocked with loads of sand will create challenges for drainage in an area that is already affected by floods even during minimal rainfall,” Ramdatt said.

“What is of major concern is that several key institutions are located within the vicinity; these include the Cotton Field Secondary School, Anna Regina Secondary School, Anna Regina Secondary Dormitories, The Guyana School of Agriculture, Cyril Potter College of Education, Institute of Distance and Continuing Education, the Department of Education, the National Communications Network and several government quarters and residents,” he added.

Further, Ramdatt said that when contacted to verify if approval was granted by the Anna Regina municipality, the Mayor noted that that no request was made and as a result the decision by the REO has been seen as a “total disregard for the Local Authority body.”

“The RDC reiterates its position; that is, consultations with residents and key stakeholders whenever public funds are to be used is a priority. The RDC remains convinced that the utilisation of tax dollars ought to focus on positively impacting on the lives of residents and not to create negative effects on the environment. The RDC strongly objects to the blockage of the trench and recommends that the new engineer do a proper feasibility study or assessments before he implements another poorly designed project,” Ramdatt stated.

In the meantime, he noted that RDC is monitoring the situation and is prepared to take all appropriate actions to represent the best interest of residents.
Similarly, Mayor Rabindranauth Mohan, in a press statement, registered his disapproval with the REO’s failure to consult the council prior to the works being undertaken.

“It is important to note that all drainage trenches, drains, streets, reserves and undivided lands not privately owned… comes under the direct control and supervision of the Municipality and consultation with and an agreement must be sought from the Council with regards to the change of use of any of the areas mentioned,” he said.
“The R. E. O of our Region displays a total disregard for the powers vested in the Municipality under the laws of Guyana, Chapter 28:01. It is important to note that the Municipality had previously written the R. E. O once to the effect but he chose to ignore same and acts as if he is above the laws. We wish to advise that we strongly advocate that public funds must be spent with a focus on impacting positively on people’s lives,” Mohan added.

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