It does not bode well for Region Six when at the very first statutory meeting at the beginning of the new year the RDC council was taken by surprise by a deal which was exposed by RDC Councillor Mr Zamal Hussain.
The Region purchased an obsolete D4D bulldozer which was reportedly manufactured in the 1970s for a whopping $15 million, while a brand new D7 Caterpillar Bulldozer sells for $16 million.
What was more astonishing was the fact that this machine was parked outside the RDC compound with the top officials not even aware of its arrival. The REO heard about its ‘arrival’ at the meeting when the issue was raised. She admitted that someone should have inspected the machine to verify that it was according to the order specifications. I wish to submit here that a copy of the invoice which would serve as a Delivery Note should have accompanied the machine and that this should have been verified with the order specification. The Engineer should have been the person doing this and have communicated the delivery to the REO and the Chairman. He is responsible for having to put the machine into the inventory. This is normal accounting procedure and the REO is the Accounting Officer, and the Delivery Note signed by the Engineer should have been given to the REO. However, in all fairness to her she made a commitment to send the bulldozer packing once it was discovered to be defective and not according to the specifications.
The fact that the REO admitted that she knew nothing of the delivery and receipt of the machine begs the question of the effectiveness of communication at the highest level of the RDC, the effectiveness of the inspection process and the accounting for goods received to ensure that they comply with specifications. The Engineer erred. If he felt that he did not have the expertise to inspect and certify the bulldozer then he should have solicited the assistance of experts, which is what was done eventually by the Chairman. We have had enough of ‘a pig in a poke’ purchases.
The inspection of the bulldozer by a team of competent engineers brought together by the Regional Chairman, Mr David Armogan, exposed the fact that what had been ordered was a D3 not a D4D Caterpillar and that apart from that the engine was ‘back pressuring’ (meaning that it is at the end of its useful life). There are 10 other major defects, which is natural since the D4D bulldozer was manufactured in 1970 and is now obsolete. Even some spares may be difficult to obtain. Unfortunately, while the hastily done paint job on the bulldozer was for cosmetic purposes, it could not hide its antiquity!
The price for a D4D Caterpillar online is US$11,500, while that of the D3 Caterpillar which meets the RDC specification, is US$25,295 (www.machinerytrader.com ). This means that the D4D bulldozer purchased was overpriced by at least $12 million. Who negotiated such a poor deal? I am sure that for any sort of realistic negotiation to take place the RDC negotiator must be aware of the online prices of these items, which should then form a strong basis for meaningful negotiation.
I could recall that during the RDC 2017 Budget discussions myself and Mr Harbhajan specifically requested that the Region buy a grader instead of a bulldozer, since from past experience we know a grader is more effective in building dams, but we were told that an angle blade bulldozer will effectively fulfil the same function. I had then hinted that maybe “someone has a bulldozer to sell”, and now it has come to pass! I am calling on all RDC councillors to be more involved in fighting irregular practices so that we get value for money in Region 6. I must congratulate Mr Hussain for exposing this deal and Mr Armogan for starting the investigative process in such a speedy manner.
I am calling for a proper investigation into this bulldozer deal and whoever is culpable to be exposed. If this government wants to retard its downward slide and improve its ratings then it needs to address the corruption which is galloping at breakneck speed in all directions and in all quarters!