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Sando mayor: City Engineer misleading Corporation

By LAUREL V WILLIAMS Wednesday, April 30 2014

click on pic to zoom in
MOTHER'S DAY PRESENT: Mayor of San Fernando Kazim Hosein, right, presents a token of appreciation ahead of Mother's Day as the City Corporation honour...
MOTHER'S DAY PRESENT: Mayor of San Fernando Kazim Hosein, right, presents a token of appreciation ahead of Mother's Day as the City Corporation honour...

CHIEF City Engineer at the San Fernando City Corporation (SFCC) Ramesh Sookdeo, has been misguiding the council for years, according to Mayor Kazim Hosein, who yesterday promised to meet Sookdeo at a special statutory meeting, for answers.

“We do not get proper guidance. This has been going on for far too long. We have been hoodwinked and taken for fools. He has to answer. This is the second situation in which we have been misguided,” Hosein said.

The Mayor was speaking at the corporation’s sixth statutory meeting on the issue of the excavation works being carried out behind the wholesale import and export business — Stackhouse Limited — located at the base of the San Fernando Hill on Circular Road, San Fernando.

Hosein recalled that based on information received, only the Chief Engineer was authorised to sign a “Stop Work” notice to the company.

However, Local Government Minister Marlene Coudray had subsequently responded saying that SFCC’s council can take action to have someone perform the duties of the chief city engineer, and sign the “Stop Work” notice.

The decision to issue the notice came to the corporation as a result of complaints by residents about quarrying activities at the base of the historical site. The gravel from the hillside is stockpiled on an empty plot next to the Marabella Police Station, located on the Southern Main Road.

The city engineer is currently on vacation leave, and is out of the country. The Mayor renewed calls for Local Government Reform saying that the chief engineer has too much power. “The (Municipal Corporation) Act needs to be amended, and I would like the support of every council member. It is alleged that the city engineer is a runaway horse. For the next person who would be the city engineer, we must have a say,” Hosein insisted.

Council members also noted they want clarification as to the exact legislation, if any, which states they can appoint someone else to perform the duties of the engineer. Councillor for Marabella West, La Verne Allison Smith, as well as alderman Vidya Mungal-Bissessar raised concerns about Coudray’s statement.

Admitting that she was confused, Smith noted that Coudray being a former Mayor and CEO of the said corporation, may have the correct information about the issue.

“I think she would have the correct information. Please can I get some clarity on this?

Is the administration wrong, or is it the minister? I am not sure who we are to take direction from” the councillor said.

Perusing documents before her, the corporation’s secretary Nicole Gopaulsingh remarked that the Act was silent on whether or not, a person apart from the engineer could sign the said notice. As suggested by Smith, Gopaulsingh promised to write to the minister for clarification on the issue.

Commenting on the same issue alderman Kevin Ratiram appealed to the national community to allow the council and other stakeholders to do their job, within the remit of the law. Ratiram, an attorney, charged that the relevant stakeholders must not act in haste, but rather in a sober and rational manner.

“It is a delicate situation. We should not be rushed into making a final decision,” Ratiram said.

Other issues discussed at the meeting yesterday, included the removal of illegal billboards, dilapidated and ruinous structures, and derelict vehicles.

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