Castries City Council Responds to Richard Frederick and Stephenson King

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Chair of the CCC, Peter Foster

It is imperative that a response be given to the statements of misrepresentation of the facts as presented by the parliamentary representatives of Castries North and Castries Central. This can only be construed as political mischief and the Board of the City Council will not stand idly by and accept such distorted information coming from persons who ought to know better.

The Board of the Castries City Council in the exercise of its duties sought to be guided by the principles of prudent management. Having inherited a situation that called for an immediate review of the activities of Council, the Board in its wisdom recognized the need to begin with areas where Council expends large sums to determine the merit of the expenditure.

MPs Frederick and King

As part of this exercise Council evaluated the performance of 33 sanitation contracts based on the numerous complaints and adverse perception of the public for the services rendered under these contracts vis a vis the levels of expenditure that was being incurred by the Council.

This exercise began with the Council conducting a geographical tour of the areas under the responsibility of the Council, taking into account areas for which sanitary services were contracted for. A thorough inspection of all the areas for which the contracts had been issued was undertaken and it was recognized that there were serious deficiencies in the services that needed to be addressed as the existing arrangements left much to be desired.

The total value for the 33 sanitation contracts amounted to EC$151,434.00 paid fortnightly at an average of EC$4,588.00 per contract. Further examination of the contract documents revealed significant flaws that included the following;

  • Contracts were apparently renewed in September of 2011;
  • That clause 1.3 of the contract which read “ Designated Area means the area described in the First Schedule hereto” which identified the areas for which the contractor is responsible was never included nor made a part the contract;
  • Contracts did not state the sums contracted for but yet sums were paid to persons nor;
  • was the provisions for witness in the contract ever witnessed;
  • That some contracts was not duly authorized – having only the signature of the contractor – yet the contractor was receiving fortnightly payments ;
  • Further to this it was identified that persons were being paid for the same area twice – as is the case of the LIAT Cargo shed area of Mandela Drive which was included as part of Small Vigie, paid to two individuals at a rate of EC 1500.00 a fortnight, with one also being paid under Serenity Park at the same rate.

Council recognized that the value of contracts issued for the Cariellie area represented an estimated 63% of total amount of EC151, 434.00 paid out fortnightly. It is imperative that council in its response highlight the case of John Henry who was noted in the former Ministers statement.

Mr. Henry’s contract as with all other contracts lacked the required schedule which identified his area of responsibility. Council was advised while on a tour of the City that Mr. Henry was responsible for the maintenance of the Cariellie Park and paid EC$ 4,000.00 fortnightly. Council cognizant of the fact that the Cariellie Park is incomplete and still under construction and is the subject of a matter in court felt it necessary to regularize this situation.

It left Council with the question – What exactly were you being paid to clean?

Council is of the view that prudent management must be exercised over the resources of Castries City Council and that there must be value derived from its undertaking.

In the matter of Thomas Haynes; contractual arrangements were at a cost of EC$ 11,460.00 fortnightly for the cleaning of the market, the arcade and the Marchand Market with an addition EC $ 500.00 added whenever pressure washing was done, using water the expense for which had to be covered by the Council.

The former Minister was quick to mention in his statement that Mr. Haynes injury as having being caused on the job. However, investigations suggest otherwise, as his injury was said to have been incurred as a result of carrying out work on his private vehicle.

As a recipient of this fort nightly sum, the facts are such that Council has been inundated with complaints from the market vendors on the conditions of the market and the vendors arcade not to mention the Marchand Market and that Council had for itself had a firsthand view of what was being expressed by the market vendors.

It begs the question that how could a bed ridden individual carryout the required supervision of a contract for the last four years, yet he has a contract for an additional 5years, to the extent that council – at a cost to Council had to undertake additional sanitary works at the market for which he was paid to do.

While there is merit in acknowledging the individual condition, there is greater merit in bringing to light, that as the former Minister he did not find it fitting to arrange some level of compensation to Mr. Haynes under his tenure rather chooses to pass the onus on the current Board of Council.

Additionally, this current Council inherited an arrangement that was agreed upon by previous Boards and the unions; these arrangements acted as a measure to cushion the effects from the reorganization of the sanitation department. This agreement forwarded and encouraged former workers to form themselves into small business. These small businesses would in turn be contracted by council to carry out the sanitary services for the Council.

Council’s investigations of this arrangement has revealed that contracts issued in September 2011 were made between individuals – in 90% of the cases, rather than with small business entities. However the investigation revealed that the respective partners had  no   knowledge whatsoever or ever benefited from these arrangements as in the case of a particular business performing the services and the payment is being made to another individual at a rate of at a rate of EC$5,310.00 fortnightly.

Such action defeats the original intent on the previous arrangement and brings into focus whether such action were intentionally designed to benefit specific individuals.

Council’s investigations also revealed that contracts were being issued to persons who council could not identify and in some cases who were otherwise employed in other companies in the private sector. This approach speaks negatively as the strategy to create employment deprived the unemployed of an employment opportunity.

Central Castries

In the case of Castries Central – of the 33 contracts inherited and reviewed by council only 5 are related to Castries Central valued at  EC $ 35,090.00 fortnightly. Council in its exercise of prudent management have restructured the current arrangement and issued 9 contracts using the same resources covering a wider area. This action has not only increased the number of persons employed from 25 to an estimated 45 and has provided the Central Castries area with a wider coverage of services by council.

Council’s actions seek to address the waste and mismanagement of the Castries City Council. No longer can Council continue along a path where documentation to support council’s commitments are missing or are not well constructed leaving room for potential fraudulent action; nor should Council endeavor to cast a blind eye to the inefficient use of the resources at its disposal.

In every case of the restructuring process, the Board has paid specific attention to the details of all contracts to ensure accountability and value. Councils Commitments to it constituents must be directed to bringing true benefit from it services. To this end the Council strives to ensure that there is no waste of resources, accountability of persons employed and efficient operations.

Human Resource Issues

A number of human resource issues also are being addressed. The Council also identified that there were a number of persons on temporary employment within the council that had been brought in for six month periods under the SSDF/Hope and NSDC projects. These persons after the completion of the six month programme continued in the employment of CCC for over 18 months. To regularize this situation, where some persons could have been kept on staff their temporary employment was terminated and they were reinstated in full time positions at the CCC after receiving good performance appraisals from the supervisors. Unfortunately not all could have been kept on due to poor performance and issues relating to high absenteeism. It is as a result of this persons such as Miss. Charmaine Ceasar and Mr. Matyr had their temporary employment terminated by the CCC.

Date June 6th , 2012

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