As a Regional Councillor, it is my duty to speak against the cancer of corruption which is engulfing Region 6 at an alarming rate with no solutions in sight. I had written extensively about the allegedly corrupt bulldozer deal, but despite assurances from the REO that the decrepit piece of machinery will be sent packing, it is still to this day ensconced next to the entrance of the RDC Office at Vryman’s Erven in New Amsterdam. The REO had said that the supplier had signed a bond to the value of $15 million and should the supplier fail to replace the bulldozer then that bond would be forfeited. At the last RDC meeting when I raised the matter the ‘bond’ seemed a distant memory. Unfortunately, the REO was not present at that meeting.
Another area of corruption is substandard and poorly executed works. Recently, an emergency contract was given for excavation works at the mouth of the No 43 Channel. The fishing boats at No 43 were stranded due to the fact that the canal and the mouth of the channel are heavily silted making them impassable for a large number of boats to go fishing and for those which have already gone out to sea to return with their catches. This situation has been festering for over one month now. Those boats which are out have to use the Eversham channel to offload their catches and reload. Several complaints were made by these fishermen and after a long period and much financial loss to the fishermen, the NDIA invited quotations for the excavation of the mouth of the channel.
An experienced contractor who has the capacity to do the job was sidelined even though he was asked to submit a quotation. The fishermen explained to me that they were told that the emergency work was given to a contractor who lacked the capacity to do the job, since he does not have the dredging equipment to do it effectively. Moreover, they pointed out that the excavation of the creek to the channel was done by the same contractor who dug both sides and left the middle, which resulted in rapid resilting. Since May 2017 this was done two times at a cost of $8 million each time. It was also done once in 2016 for $8 million as well. This canal seems to be a milking cow for the said contractor. The fishermen said that if this contractor cannot excavate a canal properly they cannot fathom how he is going to excavate the embankment at the mouth of the channel. This is another area of corruption where certain contractors who refuse to give ‘kickbacks’ are rejected. The best bribers are given the contracts, not the best man to do the job.
What is also eating away the quality of work done is the deliberate under-bidding for contracts. Some contractors through inside information know exactly how low they should bid. In doing so they effectively erode their profit margins and when this is compounded with the inevitable ‘kickback’ the result is substandard work which again will be the subject of bribery to ensure it passes certification. Public Infrastructure is turning a blind eye to this since cronies and families are allegedly involved.
Political commitment is a necessary condition to eradicate corruption in the awarding of contracts, certifying works completed and rejecting substandard works. There is a clear misuse of public office and Region 6 is losing tens of millions each year due to this form of corruption. We simply cannot get value for money.
In conclusion, contracts must be awarded to only those contractors who can be certified that they have met anti-corruption commitments, and this means establishing a system to identify these corrupt contractors and at the same time award contracts to those contractors who have the capacity and are incorruptible. On the other hand, those found guilty of corruption should face the full brunt of the law and debarred for life.
RDC Councillor, Region 6